Chevron’s Toxic Debris Mounds
- Goal: Ensure Chevron completely removes mounds of toxic debris left on the ocean floor after its four oil platforms were removed in the Santa Barbara Channel, and ensure clean-up and restoration of the marine environment
- Year Started: 1997
- Clients: Citizens Planning Association, Get Oil Out, Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter
In 1994, four of Chevron’s platforms that stood in the Santa Barbara Channel, just offshore Summerland were shutdown. The State Lands Commission ordered Chevron to remove the 4-H Platforms – Hope, Heidi, Hazel, and Hilda – and restore the marine environment to its natural state. Although the platforms were removed, Chevron left behind large mounds of toxic debris containing chemicals including benzene and PCBs on the ocean floor, measuring up to 266 feet in diameter and 28 feet tall. These mounds remain on our ocean floor today, and consist of mollusk shells, drilling muds and cuttings, caissons, and pipeline components. As required in Chevron’s permits and its Abandonment and Removal Plan with the State Lands Commission, the company is required to remove all toxic materials off the ocean floor and clean up and restore the surrounding marine environment. These mounds contain toxic materials from the decades of oil production and pose the threat of ocean pollution, alter the seafloor, and can obstruct fishing operations by interfering with nets and causing damage to fishing gear. Additionally, there is potential of seismic activity that could dislodge the toxic material in the mounds into the open ocean.
On behalf of Citizens Planning Association, Get Oil Out, and Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, the Environmental Defense Center is working to ensure the State Lands Commission moves forward with enforcement action against Chevron to ensure removal and clean-up of these debris mounds. With many platforms in the Channel slated to be decommissioned in the near future, a clear message must be sent to oil operators that the State Lands Commission will not tolerate the pollution of our natural resources and noncompliance of our laws put in place to protect human health and our sensitive marine environment.