SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators say Chevron has not done enough to stop a massive oil spill that dumped about 800,000 gallons of crude oil and water into a Kern County canyon, and they want the company to take further action to halt the flow.
The seep out of the ground where Chevron injects steam to extract underground crude oil has been happening on and off since May.
The state has issued Chevron a notice of violation ordering it to stop steam injections around the area where the seep was occurring in the large Cymric Oil Field about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Bakersfield. This week Chevron said no new fluid had come to the surface since Tuesday and that 90 percent of the released material has been recovered.
The company also said the spill is not near any waterway and has not significantly affected wildlife.
KQED reports regulators took a further step Friday by ordering the company to completely stop the flow, also known as “surface expression,” and prevent any new releases. The order was issued by Jason Marshall, the new acting head of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources.
The directive came a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom fired the head of the embattled division over a recent increase in hydraulic fracturing permits and amid a conflict-of-interest investigation of other division employees.
“The division has determined that operator has had a continuous and interconnected series of surface expressions on its property that are not ‘low-energy seeps’ where, based upon the supervisor’s information and belief, operator has not yet done everything that is necessary to prevent future occurrences,” the order said.
Chevron said it will review the order and work with the involved agencies.
Chevron could appeal the order. But if it remains in effect and the company doesn’t comply, the division says the company faces fines and more enforcement action that could include regulators rejecting Chevron applications for future oil well operations.