Chevron spills 30 lakh litres of oil and water in California

U.S. officials began to clean up a massive oil spill on Friday that dumped nearly 30 lakh litres of oil and water into a California canyon, making it larger if less devastating than the State’s last two major oil spills. The newly revealed spill has been flowing off and on since May and has again stopped, Chevron spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua said. She and California officials said the spill is not near any waterway and has not significantly affected wildlife. Chevron reported that the oil and water have leaked out of the ground where it uses steam injection to extract oil in the large Cymric Oil Field. The steam softens the thick crude so it can flow more readily and is a different process from fracking, which breaks up underground layers of rock. The State has issued Chevron a notice of violation ordering it to stop steam injections around the spill. The company also increased its production of oil from wells in the area. Both actions are intended to relieve underground pressure that may be forcing the mix of oil and water to the surface. The clean-up and the investigation into what caused the oil flow were somewhat delayed as officials ensured there are no dangerous fumes or sinkholes that could trap workers or heavy equipment, he said. “At this point, they have it dammed off and they’re sucking it out, sucking the oil out,” Mr. Gonzalez said. Environmental groups said the Chevron spill is another sign of weakened regulations under an embattled California agency. Governor Gavin Newsom this week fired the head of the State’s oil and gas division over a recent increase in hydraulic fracturing permits and amid a conflict-of-interest investigation of other division employees. The Last Chance Alliance, which opposes California’s oil and gas industry, said the State’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources adopted weaker restrictions on steam injection earlier this year, “making these operations even more dangerous.” Neither Chevron nor division spokesman Don Drysdale commented on the criticism.

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