With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bearing down and a county enforced “cease work” order levied against it, Greka Oil & Gas, Inc. announced Friday that it may lay off up to 100 employees.
In a Greka press release, company president Andrew deVegvar stated that the company feels the county has acted unfairly with regards to the order.
“The county’s actions are a transparent attempt to close all of Greka’s facilities,” deVegvar said. “With this aggressive and selective inspection schedule, the county is circumventing the law and trying to shut down our facilities one by one … Greka has been unfairly singled out by the county for enforcement actions that are not being applied against other producers in similar situations.”
According to a statement by Greka officials, the county’s order has affected 95 percent of its production. The company had originally stated that the firings of some 100 employees would take place last Friday, but the action was postponed “in hope that the county’s regulators will lift the onerous stop work orders so employees can go back to work.”
Meanwhile, the EPA has also demanded that Greka get its facilities working in compliance with federal standards. In a press release, EPA Response, Planning and Assessment Superfund Division Chief Dan Meer stated that Greka must immediately comply or face fines of up to $32,500 a day for each violation.
“This order ensures Greka will fully comply with all federal requirements or face steep penalties,” Meer said. “Failure to cooperate will result in serious consequences for this company.”
Despite this, Greka stated that it has spent “tens of millions of dollars” on rehabilitating old equipment. The statement concluded by placing the blame on the county for allegedly failing to investigate the company’s claim that its equipment was sabotaged by vandals.
Over the last two months, at least 140,000 gallons of crude oil and contaminated water was released from Greka facilities, including a Dec. 7 spill that released over 58,000 gallons into a seasonal creek and a Jan. 4, spill that spewed over 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the surrounding environment. According to officials, the Jan. 4 spill flowed for over 12 hours before it was noticed.