Ridley-Thomas Connects with Culver City’s Oil Concerns

“My patience has run out with respect to this,” Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas commented, “and it’s time to move this forward.” The evening was billed as “A Candid Conversation on the Inglewood Oil Field” and Ridley-Thomas not only spoke to the crowd about his concerns and the actions he has taken, he had a panel of authorities there to answer questions and educate people about the facts.

With almost 200 people in the seats at the Garden Room at Vets Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 23,  there were many questions to be answered. The panel was made up of Richard Bruckner, the director of the County’s Regional Planning Department; Derek Chernow, the interim director of the Department of Conservation, and Mohsen Nazemi, from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Both Citizen’s Coalition for a Safe Community and the City Project, two entities that have been active throughout the Community Standards District  process, were there to disseminate information about their perspectives to the audience.

Ridley-Thomas stated “All parties involved in the lawsuit [including the City of Culver City] are scheduled to meet and come to terms with a settlement agreement during the week of Feb.28. If an agreement cannot be reached, we are scheduled to be in court on March 29.”

He continued, “Among the critical issues I believe must be addressed in the settlement are; reducing the number of well, limiting the number of operating flares, installing quality landscaping, and completing health and environmental justice studies. Above all, my office is committed to ensuring that these matters be settled soon.”

The questions that the audience asked of both the supervisor and the panel highlighted the genuine fear of disaster that the neighbors around the oil fields have lived with for years.

Is there an evacuation plan in case of a crisis? Yes, there is a reverse 911 phone system in place to call people in case of an earthquake or similar scenario. Does the fire department have equipment to deal with oil fires? None of the officials present could answer, and no one was there to speak for the fire department. Several questions about fraking ( the pressure process used to extract oil from old wells) went through mulitple technical perspectives, as the hydraulic fraking and the gravel-packing fraking method were considered geologically different, but in the same technical category. Yes, PXP is using a  fraking process, and they are within compliance to do so.

A member of the audience offered that they had heard a news report that PXP would not consider a settlement, and was simply waiting to go to court. Ridley-Thomas replied that he had not been given that information, and at any rate, he hoped it was simply not true.

People whose questions that could not be answered were asked for contact information so that the supervisor’s office could get the information to them after the meeting.

Councilmember Andy Weissman confided that he had been asked to “clear his calendar” in regard to the settlement agreement, and was prepared to negotiate as long as needed. “But,” he added “we may just have to get to March 29.”

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