The Los Angeles City Council is looking into its legal options—including eminent domain and condemnation proceedings—to prevent the to prevent the reopening of a South Los Angeles oil field that was closed when residents complained that fumes were making them sick.
Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a motion recently that would request the city attorney to immediately report to the city council in a closed session on all legal options that can be employed to prevent an oil field operated by AllenCo Energy Co. on land leased from the Los Angeles Archdiocese from reopening.
Cedillo has been exploring various avenues to stop the oil field from reopening. Earlier this month, the city council directed the City Attorney’s office to prepare and present an ordinance repealing the oil district where the AllenCo site is located, but the ordinance has not come back to the City Council for vote.
The move came after the City Council asked the Petroleum Administrator Uduak-Joe Ntuk to explore implementing a little-used law that allows the city to terminate oil drilling districts that have been inactive. But a report from Ntuk concluded that the AllenCo district did not meet the requirements to be terminated for inactivity due to the idle wells not being properly abandoned yet, but advised that the City Council can repeal this urban oil drilling district under the City Charter Section 558.
The AllenCo field in University Park is in Cedillo’s First District and has been inactive since 2013. A report from Board of Public Works explained that the city could terminate any oil district that had been inactive for a year.
Cedillo’s motion says AllenCo recently informed the city it plans to restart operations at the oil field at 814 W. 23rd St.
“Times have changed and the primary concern for the communities I represent is that they live in a healthy and environmentally just neighborhood,’’ Cedillo said earlier this year. “This includes communities that are free of potentially harmful oil emissions or the potential for an oil leak. We are fighting to ensure our residents all over the district have the same quality of life.’’
AllenCo voluntarily closed its oil field after health complaints.
In 2016, City Attorney Mike Feuer said the oil field must remain closed until the operator shows it has adhered to all regulations, with even the smallest leak potentially triggering another closure.
Feuer sued the company in early 2014 and obtained an injunction forcing the facility operators to follow all relevant regulatory laws. AllenCo also agreed to pay $1.25 million in penalties, split equally between the City Attorney’s and District Attorney’s offices.