Ventura County busts fracking injection well in Oxnard

From the Ventura County Star, news today of a police bust of an injection well site in Oxnard — the only site in the county that accepts fracking fluid for disposal purposes. 

OXNARD, Calif. – Investigators from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office converged on the site of a local oil field waste company outside Oxnard on Thursday with search warrants.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Christopher Harman said investigators arrived at Anterra Corp.’s waste disposal site on East Wooley Road outside Oxnard on Thursday morning. The company’s headquarters in Santa Paula was also served, he said.

Harman said he could provide no further details about the open investigation of possible criminal violations.

Anterra officials had no prior warning of the searches and had not been interviewed by any agency before the investigators arrived, company attorney Jim Prosser said Thursday.

Prosser said he understands that investigators are looking at company activities in and around July 2013, when Anterra was under different management. He declined to say who was managing the company at that time, saying he didn’t know enough about the circumstances and the time period under investigation.

Interesting, but the timing mentioned by the corporation doesn't seem to jibe with this note from our local watchdog group, CFROG, which posted this a month ago about what sounded like an on-going dispute between the county and the corporation. 

The Ventura County planning department is alleging that in just five months, at the Anterra Waste injection wells in Oxnard , the company injected 19.2 million gallons or 457 thousand barrels or of waste into two disposal wells on East Wooley road. (42 gallons = 1 barrel) They allegedly accepted a total of 4350 tanker trucks when the CUP allows 3096. (still far too many for safety in Oxnard in our opinion.) That's 1254 trucks coming down our highways and streets in violation of the current permit according to Ventura County. Class II underground injection wells. can take any fluid related to oil and gas drilling, including fracking waste water.

Anterra is appealing the decision on some interesting grounds including claims that planning manager Brian Baca is unethical and a hearing will be held October 23rd.

For some reason the Star story today did not mention this dispute over the volumes of fluids being disposed beneath Oxnard, although you must figure it's at the root of the conflict. It's well-known among geologists that there are thresholds to be attained before seismicity becomes possible. which is why the volume of fluids can be a crucial matter. But the paper has three reporters on this, so I'm sure we haven't heard the end of it.

Was just talking today with a geophysicist at UCSB who said a new study from CalTech found "induced seismicity" — earthquakes connected to injection wells — at a handful of injection wells sites in Kern County, out of a total of 1600.  

So why worry? Right? 

But the Ventura County D.A. has issues, clearly, when they send what looks like a SWAT to collect records from a corporation. Why the urgency if they're investigating what happened a year ago?


 Follow-up from a commentator, Quiet against the Noise, in the "comm boxes" below the newspaper story, who seems to know more than all the rest of us put together. See here (or below the fold).  

21 Hours Ago
The Anterra site – a commercial Class II Injection Well – has never come under environmental review since opening for operation in 1956. 
When The Texas Company applied for and received their first CUP in Oct 1956, no environmental review was required. In Feb 1989, the facility was sold to Anadime and in June the County permitted a Class II Injection Well for disposal of its on-site oil waste. No environmental review was required. 
In Aug 1989, Anadime applied for and received a CUP with a Minor Mod allowing for their Class II Injection Well to become a "commercial facility" and receive oil waste from other operations. Anadime was exempted from any environmental review by the County of Ventura. The County of Ventura granted Anadime's CUP for a period of 20 years. 
In Nov 2001, DOGGR approved a transfer of ownership to Anterra and restatement without requiring any environmental review by the State of California. 
In Feb 2009, Anterra received County approval to convert Well #5 from production to injection. The Planning Director found the applicant's request to be categorically exempt from CEQA. 
In June 2011, Anterra was issued a Notice of Violation for exceeding truck trips along with 5 other counts. It took them nearly 2 and 1/2 years to clean up their act. Eight months later, Anterra filed a pre-submittal application with the County of Ventura for analysis of a text amendment to allow its commercial Class II injection well – currently a non-conforming use – to continue to operate under a new CUP. The Planning Director's initial review did not identify any public health, safety, or welfare concerns. 
In June 2014, Anterra was once again issued a Notice of Violation for exceeding truck trips – from 25 to 552 over the legal limit per month from Nov 2013 to March 2014 – along with other citations. Anterra has appealed and is scheduled to meet with the Planning Commission this October 23rd. 
It's time for the County of Ventura to quit playing footsies with a 60-year-old operation that receives toxic fluids just outside the Oxnard City limits, knowingly exceeds their permitted uses, and injects God knows what into wells over and/or under our deep water aquifers, which we may one day need soon to use for drinking water. 
While Planning may not recognize any public health, safety or welfare concerns, then maybe County electeds might want to take a harder look as we approach November…  
I have concerns. DO YOU? 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

4 thoughts on “Ventura County busts fracking injection well in Oxnard

  1. The DA refuse to prosecute the nine oxnard cops who murdered Alfonso Limon by “mistake”, they meant to murder a suspected gang member


  2. It’s true that Class II injection wells, such as operated in Ventura County by Anterra, are not in and of themselves the same thing as hydraulic fracturing. But it’s also true that these Class II wells are licensed to accept fluids from frack jobs by the EPA.

    Re: accurate data, I think it’s clear that the data that Anterra reported to the CA Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources, which shows the injection of millions of barrels of fluid, greatly exceeding the permit they received from the county for reinjection of oil-field fluids fifteen years ago, has set off their dispute with the Planning Department of the County of Ventura.

    But what is driving the county’s criminal investigation of the firm?


  3. Then why did you title it “Fracking Injection Well” when clearly it is not. You are hurting your own cause by being disingenous with such writing.


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