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EPA Anticipates End of Oil Spill Cleanup Project



More than six months after Greka Energy Co. spilled 86,000 gallons of crude oil at its Bell Lease facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is nearing completion of its cleanup efforts at the site.

The agency assumed control of the project on April 1, after Greka failed to comply with the EPA’s safety standards. Specifically, the agency was worried that hazardous waste left untreated at the Bell Lease facility might contaminate local waterways. However, the EPA now predicts that the facility will be clean by Friday.

The Bell Lease facility has played host to at least three major spills since last summer – including a December 7, 2007 leak that released over 80,000 gallons of crude oil – resulting in the contamination of much of the surrounding land and the nearby tributary of the Sisquoc River.

According to EPA reports, Greka’s inadequate response in the months following the spills exacerbated the already extensive soil contamination at the site. In the past seven weeks, EPA contractors have removed approximately 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil for off-site hazardous waste disposal.

An additional 3,200 cubic yards of contaminated solids were also removed from the Upper Bell Pond, the site of a January spill.

“The EPA assumed control of all clean up efforts and completed the work started by Greka’s contractor,” the EPA report on the cleanup read. “As part of the creek cleanup, the EPA, with assistance from the California Department of Fish & Game, restored the creek and placed two inches of backfill and erosion control materials in the creek bed.”

Meanwhile, the energy company – which has recently incited considerable public outcry for the hundreds of pollution incidents that have occurred at its facilities – heralded its own major milestone this week.

The corporation’s CEO, Andrew deVegvar, announced in a press release that the Greka Green program – a company-wide plan to recycle aging equipment – has officially removed 1 million pounds of derelict gear from its facilities. Noting that replacing dilapidated equipment at its facilities is the cornerstone of its infrastructure improvements plan, deVegvar pledged that the company would continue on the path toward eco-friendly operations.

“But, of course, our commitment does not end here,” deVegvar said. “We are going to continue with Greka Green and the removal of additional out-of-service equipment, just as we will proceed with our other environmental initiatives, such as enhancing streambed protection beyond what regulations require.”

Greka, in its near decade-long tenure in Santa Barbara County, has been responsible for over 200 spills and at least 450,000 gallons of spilled crude oil.

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