Environment & Science

Allenco another step closer to pumping oil again

The Allen Company is accused of causing noxious fumes in parts of the University Park neighborhood as a result of its oil production.
The Allen Company is accused of causing noxious fumes in parts of the University Park neighborhood as a result of its oil production.
Jed Kim/KPCC

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A contested oil pumping facility in a neighborhood near downtown has been granted a revised operating permit from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The site, which voluntarily halted operations in November 2013, had for years been the object of complaints from neighbors who said fumes were impacting their health. 

The owners of Allenco have installed more than $1 million of upgraded equipment with the aim of reducing nuisance odors and increasing safety. 

The revised permit granted by the AQMD reflects the equipment changes and mandates that several steps be taken to ensure liquids and gases are not exposed to open air.  

"We added a number of additional conditions to address the odors and potential public nuisance that could be generated to basically minimize their emissions and mitigate any potential odors," said Mohsen Nazemi, deputy executive officer for the Office of Engineering and Compliance at the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Community activists said they were baffled by the AQMD's decision to grant the permit, saying that it should have been issued when all agencies were satisfied with conditions at the site.

"We are not even taking this particular permit very seriously. It's the other permits that I think have more teeth and are still intent on keeping operations closed down until violations have been cured," said Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, executive director of Esperanza, which manages the People Not Pozos campaign against oil excavation from residential neighborhoods. 

Even so, she said, it was unlikely that her organization would ever support an active site. 

"Our community and People Not Pozos would still have problems with this site ever opening again, as it has problems with any oil extraction site in any residential neighborhood, because it is the nature of accidents to happen," Ibrahim said. 

Allenco still needs to satisfy requirements from other state and city agencies before it can reopen. An official with the company said work is progressing well but that no date had yet been set to resume operations. 

Remaining steps needed:

Agency Permit or Approval Required of Restart? Status of Permit or Approval Date Permit or Approval Issued or Expected Decision Date Comments
DOGGR Yes, permits and individual approvals required. Injection well approval/permit finalized. Other specific approvals pending. Injection permit/approval est. end of May 2015. Other approvals pending. 18 required items under Order No. 1047 need to be satisfied prior to Division approval to restart. Certain facility fire and safety elements will need joint Division and LAFD inspections. Some compliance items are operational requirements which will go into effect after the facility reopens.
South Coast AQMD Yes, permit required Revised permit issued 6-May-15 All requirements satisfied
US EPA No affirmative action required. NA NA AllenCo must certify compliance with Administrative Order 15 days prior to restart.
RWQCB No Permitted under the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges. 11-Jan-10 Permit ID No. 4191022473
LA County District Attorney None specified NA NA NA
LA County Fire - Health HazMat No NA NA AllenCo has an active haz waste generator permit. Agency not involved in closure.
LA County Dept of Public Health (LADPH) No NA NA Formal permit not required but LADPH has been closely monitoring AllenCo, community concerns, and agencies involvement. LADPH expected to review and comment on AllenCo's compliance, remediation efforts, and expected benefits to the community
LA City Attorney's Office No NA NA Closely monitoring AllenCo and in regular contact with the Division on compliance issues.
LA Dept of Building and Safety (LADBS) Yes, permits required Pending Pending Fire and safety system equipment permits. Once LADBS permits are satisfies, LADBS will inspect to verify compliance, then hand over to LAFD
LA City Fire Dept (LAFD) See above (LADBS) NA NA See above. LAFD has verbal agreement with the Division to conduct joint inspections and testing of fire and safety systems.

New Permit:

Revised Allenco permit

Former Permit:

Former Allenco permit