Fracking Los Angeles: What Life Is Like on the Country's Biggest Urban Oilfield
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So, we needed to get the information, the dangers, the health risks, the concerns out to the community and let the community make up their own mind of what's happening.
SA: What kind of action did you take once it was formed?
GG: There were a lot of concerns that were going on. We've noticed an increased amount of property damage in the area where there are streets and roads, water main breaks. And another alarming thing are the health aspects to the community. Many of my neighbors are either ill or have passed away already from cancer and lung disease. The neighborhood school, the magnet school, the nurse has over 62 emergency inhalers just for the students there, and they also abut the oil field.
Just the general idea also that the oil field sits on top of a Newport- Inglewood fault that can possibly trigger a 7.4 earthquake, and we know how way overdue California is in quakes. They're always giving us, "Be prepared; be prepared." To allow a process that is known to trigger seismic activity to be allowed to be done here is beyond my comprehension. Or, the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey), as they say, they shouldn't be doing it in any type of urban environment.
We also have the issue of water contamination. The Windsor Hills-Baldwin Hills View Park area, we actually get a majority of our water is well water in the area, and for the operator to basically put Prop 65 (California's Proposition 65 has identified hundreds of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer) chemicals into the ground and not to think that it could potentially contaminate our water supply is also ridiculous. And the water company here, they have no idea what chemicals are going down there to even test to see if the water is safe. If you don't know what's there, then we could be drinking it and being exposed in that area, too. So, for them to put any chemicals in, to even jeopardize our water supply because our California water supply is in such high demand, even for agricultural and just drinking--I can't relate the quantifying of using these toxins to get out a dredge oil that's not even good oil; the amount that they get out here. The oil field last year, they pulled out 3 million barrels of oil. It may seem like a lot, but the U.S. consumes over 19 million barrels in a day, so that's less than 1/10 of a percentage, and yet they're willing to jeopardize the community over a drop in the bucket, basically.
SA: When you're talking about your community -- where you live, where your home is in the Baldwin Hills of Los Angeles, how many people are we talking about that are directly impacted by this oil field?
GG: There's over a quarter million people surrounding it, but when you come to trying to figure out who could potentially, it's over a million from the impacts between the toxins leaking out of there; the possible earthquake. I don't think anybody, the state could even afford any type of accident. To take that type of risk doesn't equate.
SA: And Gary, when Citizens Coalition formed, you formed it so you could litigate, and what were you litigating?
GG: Basically, we were litigating the CSD, Community Standards District, the policies of which under the oil field has to run and also over the environmental issues that were impacting the community. And so, the environmental impacts affecting the community were what the litigation was about.