Tension blooms around Greka's Palmer Road facility leak



Inspectors from the Santa Barbara County Petroleum Division and County Hazardous Materials Unit found a leak in a pipe at Greka's Bell Lease on April 21. The underground pipe is one of a few pipelines that start at the upper tank battery ponds and travel underground to the lower injection ponds.

Though Greka confirms that there was a leak in the pipe, there's some dispute about the severity of the incident. The fire department alleged that the amount of oil and produced water leaked was enough to compromise the hillside and possibly cause a landslide. Representatives from Greka say that the leak was small and from an out-of-service pipe.

The fire department and Greka also disagree on whether a stop work order or a notice to comply was issued after the incident. According to the fire department, a facility-wide stop work order was issued and then lifted after Greka repaired the hillside. Greka maintains that it was only a notice to comply, a less serious charge that gave Greka certain tasks to complete.

"There was no danger regarding the hillside, which is Greka property," Andrew DeVegvar, Greka president, said in a release. "There was no evacuation. There was no stop work order instead there was a notice to comply. This was simply a very minor incident involving some residue from an out-of-service pipe."

Repairs to the pipe included digging up the hillside and rebuilding the dirt berm above it. According to the fire department, the petroleum inspector also noted several other smaller leaks and issues that are currently being investigated.

The leak happened at the same facility that was recently re-opened after months of inactivity. The Bell Lease was shut down following a large spill in December.

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