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U.S. EPA completes phase 1 of Greka cleanup at Bell Lease site

Release Date: 04/30/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248,

Completes creek cleanup, removes 3,276 cubic yards of oil-impacted solids

(San Francisco, Calif.-- 04/30/2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday completed portions of the cleanup at the Greka Oil and Gas, Inc. Bell Lease site located at 6801 Palmer Rd. in Santa Maria, Calif.

On April 1, the EPA assumed control of all clean up efforts and completed the work started by Greka’s contractor. As part of the creek cleanup, the EPA, with assistance from the California Department of Fish and Game, restored the creek and placed two inches of backfill and erosion control materials in the creek bed. The EPA also removed approximately 3,276 cubic yards of oil-impacted solids from the western Upper Bell Pond -- the source of the January spill -- for off-site disposal at a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility,

“We’ve completed a significant portion of the cleanup at the Bell Lease,” said Rob Wise, the EPA’s federal on-scene coordinator. “Additional work is required to address subsurface contamination from the Bell pond that is seeping to the surface”

After seeps began to appear in the excavated areas of the Upper Bell Pond on April 24, the EPA discovered the presence of heavily contaminated soil and free crude oil beneath the concrete surface of the ponds. The EPA is currently assessing the horizontal and vertical extent of the contamination to determine the best way to remove it, and plans to remove the concrete from the pond and excavate contaminated soil to a depth not to exceed five feet below ground surface. The work should be completed next week.

Due to the age of this lease, the existence of unknown pipelines is also of concern. Greka will conduct an underground pipe survey based on its knowledge. The EPA will conduct additional geophysical studies to determine if anything else is present in the subsurface, and remove all pipes leading to the pond by early next week.

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