A 700-foot-tall oil-drilling platform lies anchored off the breakwater south of Terminal Island while Chevron Inc. tries to overturn an action by the California Coastal Commission banning it from the Santa Barbara Channel.
In an 8-4 vote, the commission decided Sept. 10 that the installation of the platform would increase the risk of an oil spill because the proposed site is near heavily used shipping lanes.
Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman Julia T. Nagano said the derrick is expected to remain in the harbor at least 90 days while Chevron awaits a ruling on its appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Protesters argued before the commission that an oil spill could threaten Anacapa Island, the only permanent nesting colony of the endangered California brown pelican.
The $25-million drilling structure, built in Japan, had been anchored off Santa Barbara while Chevron awaited the commission's decision. It was towed to the Port of Los Angeles and arrived Sept. 21.
Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige can override the Coastal Commission because the proposed drilling site is in federally controlled waters. He has overruled the state three times on similar offshore development issues. The platform would be nine miles off Port Hueneme, southeast of Santa Barbara. The rig would tower 12 stories above the waves and its 25 wells would tap oil reserves estimated at 80 million barrels. Pipes would carry the oil to shore.
If completed, the project would cost $150 million, including drilling rigs, crew facilities and oil-cleanup equipment. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council have protested the installation. The departments of Interior, Transportation, Defense and Commerce have supported Chevron's application.