Allenco to pay for upgrades at South LA oil drilling site

Allenco | Emmanuel Martinez

A gate barricades the AllenCo oil drill site from the street. | Emmanuel Martinez

The Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the Allenco Energy Inc. Friday that will cost the South L.A. oil production facility $700,000 for site improvements after it was found to be in violation of industry standards and receiving hundreds of residential complaints.

This deal is a result of an EPA investigation that uncovered several health and safety violations.

“When a company is operating in extremely close proximity to a neighboring community, it is essential that steps are taken to ensure the safety of the residents,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest division, in a statement. “Today’s order requires Allenco make the investments necessary to comply with the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.”

Also see: City Council votes to halt oil drilling in South LA and throughout city, West Adams neighbors seek to oust oil productionAllenco addresses South LA oil field complaints

Allenco has been operating a small oil production facility less than a mile from USC since the 1960s. It was just recently found to be in violation of the “General Duty Clause” of the Clean Air Act because it failed to identify measures to prevent accidental releases of hazardous substances into the air.

The EPA investigation was prompted by hundreds of community complaints dating back to 2010 to the South Coast Air Quality Management District regarding odors and troubling symptoms like headaches and nosebleeds. It is still unclear to community members what kinds of emissions really come from the facility or what longterm health risks those particles might cause.

Watch a short clip by Stephanie Monte from a town hall meeting last winter regarding AllenCo: 

Monic Uriarte works for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation and lives about 25 feet from the Allenco production site. She said money cannot compensate for the symptoms and ailments the site has caused in her neighborhood. “A lot of people have nosebleeds, headaches, stomach pains. It’s similar health symptoms for other residents. I don’t think it’s a coincidence it’s caused by toxic emissions,” said Uriarte.

Representative Karen Bass said in a statement Friday, “When I visited the Allenco site I was shocked to see the very damaging health impacts that the families and children were suffering. All families should be safe in their homes, and they should not worry that their neighbor is contaminating the air they breathe and the water they drink.”

Under the terms of today’s agreement, Allenco needs to implement a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan as well as resolve several maintenance issues — like flame and combustible gas detectors, fire suppression systems, atmospheric tanks, and pressure vessels — at least 15 days before opening the facility once again.

Watch a video from the People Not Pozos (People Not Oil Wells) campaign that has sought to halt hazardous practices at the AllenCo oil well:

For more information on the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan, visit:

For more information on the Clean Air Act General Duty Clause, visit:

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