Over 40 barrels of oil spilled endangering LA communities April 10, 2021 By Ramona du Houx The Inglewood Oil Field is vast. It is the largest contiguous urban oil field in the U.S., with more than one million people living within five miles of the site. Jurisdiction over the Inglewood Oil Field is split between Culver City and Los Angeles […]
Over 40 barrels of oil spilled endangering LA communities
April 10, 2021
By Ramona du Houx
The Inglewood Oil Field is vast. It is the largest contiguous urban oil field in the U.S., with more than one million people living within five miles of the site. Jurisdiction over the Inglewood Oil Field is split between Culver City and Los Angeles County. On April 6, over 40 barrels of oil spilled in the Inglewood Oil Field a few hundred feet from the Kenneth Hahn Park Playground.
“Once again, failing infrastructure in the largest urban oil field in the US is harming our communities. We voted to shut it down in Culver City. I hope Los Angeles will follow suit to stop the climate destruction and pollution,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, former Culver City Mayor.
Last year, Culver City council voted to phase out production and fully remediate the site in their portion of the Field within the next five years. Their vote included important direction to protect both workers and communities as part of the just transition away from neighborhood oil drilling.
Right now, the City of Los Angeles is considering the model approach of Culver City. A motion to consider the phase out of oil drilling city-wide passed through the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee last December. It will likely be taken up for vote at the Planning Land Use and Management Committee this spring.
On average, 2.5 – 3.1 million barrels of oil are produced yearly in the heart of Los Angeles from The Inglewood Oil Field, which covers about 1,100 acres in Los Angeles County around Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, View Park, and other neighboring communities. 52 percent of the people living in the area surrounding the Field are Black or Hispanic. Residents living near the wells have raised concerns for years about exposure to toxic chemicals and smog-forming gases. Families endure the air pollution but suffer from poor health outcomes including heart and lung disease, leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, nervous system damage, birth defects, and premature death. The rate of asthma related emergency hospital visits in Baldwin Hills is 4.4 times greater than the LA County average.
“More than 1,600 gallons of oil spilling is unconscionable. If it had happened in a white community, most likely it would have been headline news. This predominantly Black neighborhood has suffered too many injustices at the hands of the oil industry. Neighborhood drilling has to end. Elected Officials to Protect America – California stands firmly with shutting down the Inglewood Oil Field with a just transition,” said Christian Brock, EOPA CEO, Air Force Major (retired.) “We look to the future when this Oil Field is transformed into the Central Park of the West Coast.”
Community members have long advocated for the Inglewood Oil Field to be transformed into a 1,400-acre urban park, with some additional land, which would become one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Central Park in New York is 842.6 acres.
“In May we will mark two years that Culver City has been running on 100 percent renewable energy. We don’t need oil, we need a clean energy economy, and places for our kids to play and breathe fresh air. Culver City is proving that a just transition for industry workers can happen. We’re showing a way to a future that we all can embrace,”said Sahli-Wells.
Inglewood Oil Field’s recent history of spills:
- In 2019, a spill occurred when a pipe broke and the oil and contaminated water mixture traveled down a hill.
- In 2018, a containment tank spilled in the oil field, releasing a cloud of toxic benzene and exposing residents within 4,100 feet to a known carcinogen that was about seven times the EPA legal limit at the oil field fence line.
- In 2010, a methane seepage from Field led to the closure of a Boneyard dog park.
- Two toxic releases occurred in 2005 and 2006 which caused residents to evacuate their homes.
Currently, in the Field, there are a total of about 900 new, active, or idle wells. The oil extraction in the LA Basin, of which the Inglewood Oil Field is the second-most productive oil field, releases climate emissions about equal to annual emissions from 11 coal plants or 9.6 million passenger vehicles.