As I mentioned in a post in early September, Anterra, a small company with two offices in the Ventura County, was raided back on September 8th by District Attorney Christopher Harman, for a suspected criminal violation of law.
I talked to the District Attorney in a story published in the Santa Barbara Independent, but he refused to tell me what the violation was about.
Meanwhile Brian Baca, who oversees enforcement of industry for Planning in Ventura County, told me with complete conviction that they had no contact with the district attorney and no idea what his investigation was about.
Which only added to the mystery. Here's the lede from my story:
Last week, the Ventura County District Attorney sent police squads to seize records from two sites run by Anterra Energy Services, which operates the only commercial injection wells in Ventura County legally allowed to dispose of fluids generated by oil production. Senior Deputy DA Christopher Harman said the company is the target of a criminal investigation but would not discuss the reason why. “I can confirm the search warrant,” he said. “I can’t comment on what the investigation is about.”
You can hear my puzzlement.
Well, today in Superior Court, the concern of the investigators was revealed: hazardous waste. Here's a portion of the search warrant in the court records, via the Ventura County Star.
According to this warrant, the district attorney Harman "intends to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony."
What is the nature of such a suspected crime? Well, it's still not stated explicitly, but according to the warrant released by the court action pursued by Anterra, the district attorney wants to see documents relating to hazardous wastes:
Etc. So it's reasonable to assume that the county believes Anterra illegally disposed of hazardous wastes. Might this be related to the uptick in drilling and production in recent years, the so-called "oil boom?"
That would fit with the county's separate pursuit of Anterra for violating its permit by disposing of too much waste in its Class II injection well in Oxnard.
This may or may not be related to fracking — and it may or may not matter.