Oct. 17, 2003
The region’s air quality agency
reached a penalty settlement today with an oil and gas facility next to Beverly
Hills High School that will help safeguard public health by requiring continuous
air quality monitoring at the site.
The South Coast Air
Quality Management District reached the agreement with Carpinteria-based Venoco,
Inc. to settle three air pollution violations issued by AQMD to Venoco earlier
“In recent months,
students, community members, school and city officials have expressed concerns
about potential emissions from the oil facility and have asked for continuous
monitoring at the site,” said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD’s executive officer.
“This responds to that
request and will serve as an additional measure to protect public health.”
Under terms of today’s
agreement, Venoco will:
- Install, operate and maintain within six months two AQMD-approved
continuous air quality monitors, one along the north fence line and the other
along the east fence line bordering Beverly Hills High School. The monitors
will measure levels of total hydrocarbons, including methane, the major
component of oil field gas;
- Be prohibited from venting oil field gas into the atmosphere;
- Install sensors within 30 days that would detect any unpermitted
releases of oil field gas from the facility. If such a release occurs, Venoco
operators would have to notify AQMD within one hour; and
- Develop a procedure to notify the Beverly Hills School District in
the event of any oil field gas release.
In addition to the
continuous monitoring, valued at more than $60,000, Venoco agreed to pay a
$10,000 cash fine to AQMD within 30 days.
Today’s agreement settles
the following three notices of violation issued to Venoco:
- Venting natural gas contrary to air pollution permit conditions on
several days, and for constructing the facility’s amine unit without a permit to
- Modifying the amine unit without a permit to construct; and
- Failing to maintain and operate the facility’s clarifier, which
separates oil from water, in good operating condition.
In conjunction with the
settlement, AQMD today issued an air pollution permit to Venoco for a piece of
equipment known as an amine gas treating unit. Venoco’s amine unit is used to
remove carbon dioxide from oil field gas so that it can meet specifications for
commercial sale. AQMD’s permit requires air pollution control devices and a
continuous emissions monitor for the amine unit.
AQMD is the air pollution
control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San
Bernardino and Riverside counties.