A former oil tanker loading terminal at Estero Bay, between Morro Bay and Cayucos, is being decommissioned by the Chevron Environmental Management Company, with strict conditions proposed to prevent pollution of the ocean and the adjoining beach.
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Dec. 1 meeting agenda includes a proposed permit regulating the company’s wastewater discharges into the ocean as part of its decommissioning and remediation work. Chevron plans to remove an offshore pipeline, as well as 15,000 feet of pipelines around the former oil tank storage area in the hills above the beach.
Originally constructed in 1929 to store and load crude oil from Kern County and Kettleman Hills, the facility has been inactive since the 1999 completion of the Pacific Pipeline that carries crude oil to Los Angeles refineries. Sixteen aboveground storage tanks in the hills and several buildings closer to the beach have already been removed.
A temporary treatment system consisting of storage tanks, an oil/water separator, and various filters will treat the water used to flush pipelines and the groundwater extracted during remediation. The proposed discharge permit would allow 210,000 gallons of effluent a day to be discharged to the ocean through a 3,000-foot pipeline.
Chevron has identified the main pollutants of concern as various petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, MTBE, and PAHs. More frequent monitoring will be required for these pollutants than for other pollutants, according to the water board.