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Firm to Pay About $600,000 to Clean Up After Oil Geyser

About 80 Huntington Beach homeowners have filed damage claims. Cannery Hamilton Properties will provide funds.

March 23, 2004|Regine Labossiere | Times Staff Writer

A property management firm has agreed to pay the entire cleanup cost of an oil well malfunction that sprayed petroleum mist over a Huntington Beach neighborhood, coating cars and homes with a grimy film.

Cannery Hamilton Properties LLC of Huntington Beach will pay an estimated $600,000 to clean up the oil that rained on homes, cars and streets last Wednesday morning when the old well blasted a plume of petroleum about 40 feet high.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The company is working in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the residential area near Magnolia Street and Pacific Coast Highway. The well is in an old landfill about a quarter-mile from the neighborhood.

So far, an estimated $150,000 has been spent cleaning pools, streets and sidewalks. The rest of the money will go toward paying claims filed by residents.

"People in the neighborhood have been great. They seem calm, from our perspective," said Mary Urashima, a Cannery Hamilton spokeswoman.

Cannery Hamilton bought the property from Rialto-based Krik Co., but Cannery Hamilton did not operate the well. Krik Co. has said it will assist in getting rid of the on-site waste, but has not acted so far, said Rob Wise, coordinator of the emergency response section of the EPA.

Part of the investigation consists of determining which company is at fault, and Wise would not comment on Krik Co.'s involvement.

The city said about 80 homeowners had filed damage claims. Authorities said 360 homes were affected, but most did not sustain much damage.

Urashima said people were asking for their cars to be cleaned and their homes washed. Some residents said their furniture and carpeting were also dirtied when oil drifted through open windows or vents. Also, some toys and patio furniture have been replaced.

One victim received immediate and special attention -- a duck whose nest was about 20 feet from the well, said Urashima. She said the nest was cordoned off so it would not be disturbed during the cleanup. The duck and her eggs appear to be doing well, she said.

Wise said the well would be closed permanently.

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