A new environmental survey has found no serious health dangers stemming from a controversial Unocal oil-processing plant in Huntington Beach, but a spokesman for residents in the area said the study has nonetheless found reasons for concern.
The spokesman, Jim Bridges, said residents still are not convinced that emissions from the plant pose no harm.
"It is our opinion that more questions were raised than answered, and that further effort will be required to ensure the well-being of our community," Bridges said in a letter to Unocal this week.
The new environmental study, made by Meredith/Boli & Associates of Los Angeles, said its air sampling found no serious health problem.
The controversy revolves around Unocal's plant at 4541 Heil Ave., in the Huntington Harbour area. The processing facility, which is called "Fort Apache" by residents and the oil company alike, separates water from oil newly dredged from offshore wells. The remaining crude oil is then moved by underground pipes to refineries outside Orange County.
For the past year some residents and property owners near Fort Apache have claimed its emissions have caused breathing problems, headaches and loss of sleep. The regional Air Quality Management District, however, has repeatedly told residents it has found no danger from Fort Apache.
Unocal representatives last fall met with residents of the Fort Apache area. The oil company, among other things, agreed to pay for an independent environmental survey to be made by a research organization picked by the residents. The residents chose Meredith/Boli & Associates. Its draft report was issued in late April.
The report said that Meredith/Boli workers on March 1 discovered a smoke malfunction at Fort Apache that lasted about 15 minutes until a Unocal employee was notified and shut off a valve.
Bridges, in his letter this week to Unocal, said the March 1 incident reinforced residents' fears that smoke accidents at Fort Apache are not quickly detected by either Unocal or the Huntington Beach Fire Department.
Bridges said residents are so upset by the city Fire Department that they have urged the county grand jury to investigate the agency.