Friday, November 16, 2007

Greka Energy oil facility shut down after string of mishaps


Two oil spills and a toxic gas leak this week at the same Greka Energy facility near Santa Maria has prompted the Santa Barbara County Fire Department to shut the facility down until repairs are made.
The decision to close the facility came on Thursday after County Fire officials and members of the County’s Air Pollution Control District discovered a tank that was leaking toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide gas.

The leak was the third strike in what has been a busy week at the facility, which is known as the Bradley Three Island and is located at 3851 Telephone Road. Iskow said the facility is only a half mile away from the Lake Marie housing tract.
The first incident occurred Monday evening when a faulty valve allowed more than 6,300 gallons of crude oil and waste water to gush onto the ground. Captain Eli Iskow, a spokesman for the County Fire Department called the spill “moderate to large.”
Less than 24 hours later, the fire department was notified that another equipment malfunction at the facility spewed an additional 840 gallons of crude oil onto the ground.
Through it all, Greka officials have not responded to several phone messages left by the Daily Sound.
Though sulfide gas was released during the first oil spill, Iskow said far higher levels were involved during Thursday’s spill, which prompted the closure.
“We decided at that point there was enough other issues with the current operation that no one felt it was safe enough for the employees and the nearby public to let them continue,” Iskow said.
During Monday’s incident, Iskow said there was a possibility Greka officials weren’t monitoring the levels of released gas properly. Deputy County Fire Marshal Rick Todd said he couldn’t verify a monitoring lapse on behalf of Greka, but said an investigation into the incidents are underway.
Iskow said the gas spill on Thursday occurred when officials were conducting an inspection of the facility, which was prompted by the first two incidents.
He said regulating agencies are working with Greka officials to maintain public safety and bring the facility into compliance with safety codes.

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