Environment & Science

Decision delayed on expanded oil drilling in West Adams

Houses sit less than an armspan away from the fenceline for the Jefferson Drill Site, along Budlong Avenue. Neighbors to the Freeport McMoRan-operated site say they're concerned about the activities underway at the Jefferson site.
Houses sit less than an armspan away from the fenceline for the Jefferson Drill Site, along Budlong Avenue. Neighbors to the Freeport McMoRan-operated site say they're concerned about the activities underway at the Jefferson site.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

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A decision on whether to permit expanded oil drilling in a South Los Angeles neighborhood has been delayed after about a hundred residents turned out to a hearing to oppose the plan. 
 
At issue was whether the company Freeport McMoRan could drill one new well and redrill two others at a site in the 1300 block of Jefferson Blvd bordered by homes on three other sides. So many people turned out for the hearing at L.A. City Hall, an overflow room had to be set up. 

Permit approvals like this have been routine in the past. But zoning administrator Maya Zaitzevsky said it'll take time to analyze new evidence and testimony, including in a 63-page letter from community groups. 
 
Neighbors say they’re worried about well operations that can bring as much as 24,000 pounds of acid to the Jefferson drill site at one time.
 
Petroleum consultant Rae Connet, appearing at the hearing on behalf of Freeport, told Zaitzevsky that acid and other chemicals used in drilling are common and safe.
 
"For hydrochloric acid, for example, It’s in Herbal Essence Shampoo," Connet said. "It’s in febreeze air effects, it's in Terra pond fish treatments and Lysol brand toilet cleaner." Connet went on to detail products carrying formaldehyde, and would have continued, but she was interrupted. "I get, I get the point," the zoning administrator said. 
 
A spokesman for Councilman Bernard Parks, who represents the area, said the councilman will host a meeting among drilling opponents and Freeport McMoRan to try to hammer out an agreement so that operations can proceed. 

No decision is expected until January 5th at the earliest.