An embattled oil production facility in University Park says it has made more than $1 million worth of upgrades intended to reduce fumes that area residents complained were making them sick. Those changes will be explained to community members on Wednesday evening at a meeting sponsored by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Community members have long complained of industrial odors they say come from the facility. The fumes are believed to be the cause of numerous health problems, including headaches, nosebleeds and nausea.
The complaints lead to regulatory actions and Alleco's shuttering of the facility in fall 2013
A spokesman for Allenco Energy said that the company believes it is properly addressing residents’ concerns with the changes it is making.
“The perspective of Allenco is they have a 100 percent closed loop system now so that if there is anything that was causing any type of upset in the community, they are confident that that has been addressed,” said company representative Peter Whittingham.
Whittingham said the improvements include:
- Replacing an open trough with a completely enclosed system
- Removing excessive piping
- Emptying, washing and resealing tanks
- Replacing all pressure release valves
- Establishing secondary containment under fluid containers
- Installing a duplicate air compressor for the vapor recovery system
- Updating emergency response plans and facility maps
Whittingham said the company has also updated the facility’s fire suppression capabilities and are awaiting final certification from the fire department. Allenco is also awaiting operational permits from the AQMD before it will resume operations.
“They won’t be opening tomorrow or this week. Their hope is to open in the not-too-distant future once they have the fire certification and the amended permit from the district,” Whittingham said.
Allenco Energy voluntarily ceased operations in November 2013, amid growing opposition from neighbors and politicians. Since then, it has been sued by the city attorney and been issued violations by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The meeting, which will be held on the neighboring Doheny Campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University, will also include the results of AQMD’s continued monitoring of the air around Allenco and the status of operational permits sought by the company. Community members will be given a chance to speak and ask questions.
Many areas residents have said they will only be satisfied with a permanent shutdown.
Whittingham said that there is no way currently to know whether the changes made will reduce the odors from the facility.
“They have not been permitted to resume operations, so there’s no way to ensure that there’s nothing there,” he said.