Oil Well Plugging Project Questions & Answers
Why isn’t the oil company plugging the wells?
The agreement with Venoco governing the oil well operations expired on December 31, 2016, and Venoco filed for bankruptcy soon thereafter. Legal efforts to force Venoco to plug the wells were not successful. The plugging of the wells is now the responsibility of the District, with the City providing support to finalize the project. The project will be carried out with safety as the top priority.
How will the safety of those on the campus be ensured?
The oil well plugging will be performed in accordance with American Petroleum Institute standards, which are widely considered by oil production experts to ensure a safe and effective process. The project will also be approved and monitored by the State of California’s Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. The City and the District are taking every possible measure to carry out the project as safely as possible, and extensive emergency management planning has been underway throughout the project.
How much will the project cost and who is paying for it?
The City has an agreement with the District whereby the City will oversee project delivery. The City will advance up to $8 million to monitor the site and plug the wells, with a 50% reimbursement by the District at a future date. The City is contributing to the funding in order to safely plug the wells as soon as possible.
What is the start date for this project?
How long will the project take to complete?
Plugging of the 19 wells is expected to take between 9 to 12 months, and will be carried out on a schedule that focuses on safety and minimal disruption to the campus and surrounding area. The City and the District are making every effort to ensure successful, efficient completion of the project.
What will replace the athletic fields that will be closed during the project?
The City Recreation and Parks Department is working with the District to provide City facilities for any activities affected by the project. The City and the District are working cooperatively to minimize scheduling challenges.
Will vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian traffic near the project be affected?
Traffic of all types won’t be affected during the project; construction activity will be limited to a secure area fully contained within the campus. The only temporary impact on traffic will be during the brief delivery and removal of major construction equipment at the beginning and end of the project.
Will there be any odors created by the project?
No unusual odors are expected during most of the project. The only detectable odor is expected during the brief period when SoCalGas removes its facilities from the project site; the odor is considered harmless and is added to the natural gas supply as a safety precaution.
Will there be any noise created by the project?
The only detectable noise expected during the project will be typical noises from cranes used to take down the tower, on-site pumps, rig engines, generators, and when drilling equipment is pulled out of the wells and placed in racks on the project site. Except for the removal of the existing tower, similar rig-related well maintenance activities have been taking place since the facility was first constructed; the difference here is that the wells will not return to service. The City and the District will work with the contractor to minimize noise from the site, and barriers will be utilized to minimize noise construction. Construction will occur during 12-hour daylight periods to reduce impacts on the campus and nearby neighborhoods.
Is there a chance that toxic gases will leak?
Oil industry experts are confident that no toxic gases of any type will leak as a result of this project. Well plugging will be conducted under stringent safety and environmental guidelines, with continual monitoring.
How can the public learn more and stay updated about the project?
More information about the project is available by visiting this link on the District website: www.bhusd.org/oilwells, calling the District at 310-550-5100 ext. 2210, or calling the City’s Public Information Manager at 310-285-2456.