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Thursday, January 24 , 2019, 3:22 am | Fair 42º


Santa Barbara County to Lift Work-Stop Order At Greka Facility

The oil and gas company can resume pumping oil under a conditional operating permit.

Santa Barbara County officials have notified Greka Oil & Gas Inc. that a county-issued stop-work order will be conditionally rescinded for the company’s UCAL facility, at 6527 Dominion Road near Santa Maria.

One other Greka production operation remains under a stop-work order by the county’s Fire Department and Petroleum Unit, the Bradley 3 Island facility, at 3851 Telephone Road in Santa Maria.

The notice sent Thursday to Greka allows the company to resume pumping oil at the UCAL field if the company notifies the county fire and petroleum inspection staff 24 hours in advance of initiating startup work and allows county staff to be present during the startup operations of the UCAL facility.

The conditional operating permit was given with the stipulation that a permanent Fire Protection System must be completed, tested and approved by the county fire department within 180 days of lifting the stop-work order at the UCAL facility. Failure by Greka Oil & Gas Inc. to comply with the 180-day limit of the conditional operating permit issued by County Fire can result in immediate shut down of the UCAL facility by the County.

On Feb. 1, the county fire department and the Petroleum Unit of the Planning and Development Department issued a stop-work order to Greka shutting down operations at its UCAL facility. The order was issued after fire and petroleum inspectors were called to the facility in response to reports of waste water ponds breaching their containment basins and for outstanding violations from previous county inspections performed at the UCAL facility on Jan. 17.

Greka had to correct more than 140 violations at this facility since the stop-work order was issued in February. Fire and Petroleum staff members reported last week that Greka had complied in correcting all of the health and safety violations.

Meanwhile, the director of planning and development issued about $400,000 in administrative fines against Greka, none of which involved violations creating an immediate danger to the health and safety of persons and property. Since Greka’s appeal of the administrative fines have not yet been heard, they have not become final orders that are subject to collection, enforcement or judicial review.

William Boyer is Santa Barbara County‘s communications director.

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