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Oil field may remain closed


City Attorney Mike Feuer wants a South Los Angeles oil field to remain closed until the operator, AllenCo Energy Co., shows it has adhered to all regulations, with even the smallest leak potentially triggering another closure, under a court order issued this month.

AllenCo voluntarily closed its oil field, at 814 W. 23rd St., in 2013, amid complaints by neighboring residents they were getting sick due to fumes coming from the facility.

Feuer sued the company in early 2014 to seek an injunction forcing facility operators to follow all relevant regulatory laws.

Before the recent judgment, city attorneys were in negotiations with AllenCo to resolve “the underlying issues in our complaint, which this order does,” Feuer spokesman Rob Wilcox said.

Feuer described the judgment—issued last Friday by Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner—as a “major environmental justice victory,” and said it affects a primarily low-income residential neighborhood that is close to daycare centers, elementary, middle and high schools, including a school for the developmentally disabled.

The court order “establishes unprecedented environmental protections in a South Los Angeles neighborhood that we allege has for too long endured too much,” Feuer said during a City Hall news conference. “We allege that for years, the low-income residents of the neighborhood near the AllenCo oil facility in South Los Angeles has suffered.”

AllenCo officials have declined to comment.

Under the judgment, which was agreed to by city attorneys and AllenCo, oil field operators must prove to regulators and the City Attorney’s Office it has followed all applicable federal, state and local regulations, before being allowed to re-open.

If the oil field re-opens, any release of methane, hydrogen sulfide or other chemicals could lead to another shutdown, even if the amount of the leaked chemicals falls below state standards.

Under the judgment, a “nominal” amount of emissions could lead to an investigation by the attorney’s office.

AllenCo will need to set up an on-site monitoring system to keep track of any leaks, and must also pay $1.25 million in penalties, half of it to the City Attorney’s Office and the other half to the District Attorney’s Office.

Feuer said he plans to use the city’s share of the funds to hire an “environmental justice” investigator to look into urban oil fields and other environmental issues.