Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Greka facility reopens after shutdown


Fire officials allowed Greka workers to continue oil production at the Bell lease facility near Santa Maria on Tuesday, a day after they shut down operations due to a leaking pipeline.
On Monday afternoon, safety inspectors found a pipe leading from a 200,000-gallon tank had failed and was leaking crude oil and produced water into a dirt berm, County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said. After shutting off the pump and digging up the pipeline, Greka workers replaced the saturated earth and rebuilt the berm.

Safety officials had concerns that enough oil and water had leaked out to compromise the integrity of the berm and the entire hillside, Capt. Iskow said, below which a federal cleanup crew had been working. After evacuating the crew, officials allowed Greka workers to shut off the pipeline and restore the berm.
Greka President Andrew deVegvar sought to minimize the importance of the incident, calling the information released by fire officials erroneous and defamatory in a statement yesterday.
“Indeed, the fire department media release and comments to the media by Capt. Eli Iskow went beyond simply being wrong,” he said. “They were defamatory in that they blew the situation out of all proportion and accused Greka of creating a dangerous situation.”
DeVegvar said the hillside was never in any danger, nobody was evacuated and no Stop Work Order was issued.
“This was simply a very minor incident involved some residue from an out-of-service pipe that was buried underground beneath the wall of the containment berm,” he said.
As a result of the repairs, Capt. Iskow said safety concerns about the unstable hillside were allayed and there was no need to keep the Stop Work Order in place. While on the scene, an inspector noted several smaller leaks and a gas vapor in the area, he added, leading to an official notice of violation from the Air Pollution Control District.

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