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More Complaints About Oxy

January 17, 1988

In his Jan. 3 letter, Neil Buttram of Occidental Petroleum Corp. indicated that Elizabeth Mortimer's letter of Dec. 27, plus three others, had made totally unfounded attacks on Oxy, particularly on its operations at the Pico-Doheny oil drilling site in West Los Angeles. To anyone aware of the situation, his letter contained a lot of malarkey which would indicate that he didn't know what had been going on there for the last 25 years.

Contacts I have had with people in this area show just the opposite from what he claimed. They are disgusted with the deceit that has been practiced upon them and the way Oxy has not followed the city's requirements for their operations. Some examples of these follow:

1. Drilling was not supposed to be done at night, yet on many occasions was continued up until 10 p.m.

2. Hydrocarbons and other wastes were not supposed to be discharged into the city sewer system, yet for five years it was done and Oxy was eventually ordered to stop. Apparently, they didn't because in 1983 oil was forced up into the toilet of one of the neighbors and flooded out into their bathroom.

3. Noise from the operations was supposed to be negligible, yet on many occasions there have been noises, even so great in magnitude that they were nearly painful.

4. There were supposed to be no emissions of gases or odors, yet there have been, and the smell has at times been very bad. At one time, the emission of flammable gases was so dangerous that the Fire Department had to close off the area and evacuate part of the neighborhood. On another occasion, a caustic gas emitted caused the paint to be ruined on cars parked nearby.

5. The Fire Department has had to be summoned on other occasions, once notably when there was a smoldering fire in the Oxy drilling area. These fire calls cannot be minimized by getting the Fire Department to record them as "false or unintentional alarms."

The masked drill tower at this site is in the order of 160 feet in height and completely dominates the view in this area, which is composed mainly of two-story shops, apartments, and homes. It literally sticks out like a sore thumb. In addition, Oxy frequently mounts an additional drill rig outside the drill tower with no masking and having a height of about two-thirds that of the drill tower. This work-over drilling rig is employed to keep the other drill pipes unplugged and clear, and its operations are noisy and objectionable.

Clearly, Elizabeth Mortimer's letter was well founded, and it is obvious that Oxy is living up to its reputation with environmentalists as one of the most "Filthy Five" industries in the country. Neil Buttram's letter is the one filled with fantasies.

With this modus operandi to contend with and all of the other factors involved, is it any wonder that thousands of residents of Pacific Palisades and others living throughout the Southland do not want Oxy to drill for oil alongside Will Rogers beach?

GEORGE J. TAUXE

Pacific Palisades

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