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Meager Turnout at Meeting on Venoco Oil-Trucking Request

A meeting held to gather public comment about Venoco Inc’s request to temporarily truck crude oil from its Goleta facility ended almost as quickly as it began Thursday night.

Venoco is asking the City of Goleta to approve an emergency permit to conduct temporary crude-oil trucking operations at its Ellwood Onshore Facility, 7979 Hollister Ave.

The company formerly moved oil from Platform Holly and its Ellwood Onshore Facility via Pipeline 96, which connects with Line 901, owned by Plains All American Pipeline.

That pipeline has been down since the May 19 oil spill at Refugio Beach, and it’s unclear when tit may be up and running again.  

Platform Holly and the Ellwood Onshore Facility also have been shut down since May 21 as a result of the pipeline failure and have been at capacity since then.

In the meantime, the facility has asked to truck the oil from the facility so that staff can conduct inspections and maintenance of onshore and offshore locations there.

About 5,500 barrels of crude oil would be transported, which would take place over 17 days, at two trips per day, project documents said.

The city hosted a public comment session Thursday, and no decision was made on the item.

Only three speakers showed up to speak to city planners Anne Wells and Jennifer Carman, signaling that the public may not be too concerned about Venoco's proposal. 

Linda Phillips, who was representing the League of Women Voters, said she felt it was important to approve the trucking permit for safety reasons.

“We know these are corrosive materials because that’s what happened with Plains,” she said, adding that the maintenance work being done could prevent spills in the future.

“It seems on its face okay,” said Ellwood resident John Douglas. “My concerns would that be that it could open the door for more trucking on our highways.”

He also asked what the city would be doing to monitor the truck trips.

Douglas said that the county had spoken “loud and clear” about Exxon’s emergency permit petition to trucking as a substitute for crude oil transport via pipeline.

“I think the city is well advised to take the same tactic,” he said.

Keith Wenal, Venoco’s Manager of health, environment and safety, told Noozhawk after the meeting was adjourned that he was not surprised at the minimal turnout.

When compared to the Exxon request to the county to truck crude oil, “it’s night and day,” Wenal said, adding that the time frame is limited, as well as the supply, while the mechanical work takes place.

City planning staff will issue a decision on the permit and post all of the documents on the city’s website.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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