District, city commence work to plug campus oil well

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Ben Dahan News Editor

In a joint effort between the district and city of Beverly Hills, work is expected to commence on the plugging of the campus’s oil well.  The district inherited the responsibility of cleaning the site when the operator of the derrick, Venoco, filed for bankruptcy earlier last year.

Estimated to take between nine to 12 months, the work will be completed behind a fenced, 180-foot setback barrier, and will include deconstructing the iconic, flower-decorated derrick. ARB, Inc, a subsidiary of Primoris Services Corporation, has been contracted for the project, and will be under the oversight of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

According to Director of Communications Laura Skirde, “work will be carried out on a schedule that focuses on safety and minimal disruption to our students, staff, and campus” and “is being completed in accordance with American Petroleum Institute standards to ensure a safe and effective process.”

The projected impact to campus and the surrounding community will come in the form of noise pollution from the generator at the construction site and the occasional traffic lane closure to allow for trucks. The deconstruction will cut into the available space on campus, particularly the delete softball field.

“Plugging projects such as this one are commonly and safely conducted in a variety of locations, including urban areas,” Superintendent Michael Bregy and City Manager Mahdi Azad wrote in a letter to the community. “Environmental monitoring will take place throughout the project; no uncontrolled releases of gases or fluids are anticipated.”

Nevertheless, the district is instituting precautionary measures, with an drill set later next week in event of an emergency involving the oil well that makes a typical evacuation to the football field impossible.

“We are practicing a new evacuation location because of the oil well situation, meaning in a highly unlikely, worst-case-scenario, the football field would not be safe,” Principal Mark Mead said. “We don’t want to evacuate to a place that could be affected. We want a place that we can consistently go to.”

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