January is off to an exciting start for Heal the Ocean, as we have just acquired the funding to begin an aerial survey of the Summerland Oil Field. This survey will be completed by Aqueos, a renowned subsea service contractor, under the careful oversight of the California State Lands Commission.
The purpose of this survey is to identify priority areas for cleanup and/or capping in the abandoned Summerland Oil Field. Summerland accounts for 190 of 198 of California's abandoned, or "legacy" wells, and many believe improperly capped wells are the source of Summerland's frequent oil woes, ranging from bad smelling air to unswimmable beaches. Our hope is that this survey will lead to an underwater investigation of priority "hotspots" in the Summerland area, and to cleanup and capping of any identified problem wells that exist.
While initiating this survey, which we hope will begin in February, HTO will concurrently be joining local lobbying efforts for the passage of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson's SB44 bill. This bill can bring in $2 million per year for the cleanup of legacy oil wells along the California Coast, funding that is desperately needed.
Many thanks to Nora McNeely Hurley and the Manitou Fund for making this survey possible, and to all who have worked so hard to clean up Summerland. We at HTO are looking forward to taking the next step all together!