U.S. Water News Online
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- State officials are raising concerns
that groundwater beneath a refinery that leaked oil in June may be
saturated with toxic chemicals that could contaminate public drinking
The Big West Oil of California refinery in Bakersfield was
partially shut down after releasing more than 1,000 barrels of oil
from an underground pipeline.
The refinery, owned by Flying J Inc., has had pollution problems
in the past, and the groundwater below it already was contaminated,
according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
Despite documents from the refinery's previous owner showing the
amount of groundwater contamination was increasing in some areas, the
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board did not impose
fines or enforce deadlines to get the mess cleaned up until recently,
according to an investigation by The Bakersfield Californian.
In June, the regional water board issued a formal cleanup order to
the refinery's current owner, but that does not address most of the
contamination, the newspaper found.
State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, said he plans to write a letter
asking California Attorney General Jerry Brown to get involved.
The regional water board said bare bones staffing kept it from
speeding up the process, but said it would send a formal action
notice to Shell Oil Co., the company responsible for the past
Shell will determine if further cleanup work is needed by Dec. 1,
board officials said.
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