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Environmental Remediation, Ellwood Trust Property, Santa Barbara County, California

W. Tracy
County of Santa Barbara, Dept. of Public Works, Santa Barbara, CA, [email protected]

The 118-acre Goleta Park is slated for preservation as a Trust. The property was once contaminated from oil field operations that had occurred sixty years prior. The County purchased the property in 1989. Historical records indicated that the park was the previous site of the Ellwood Oil Field, located in Goleta 1 mi west of UCSB, that produced crude oil, refined gasoline, and natural gas from 1929 to 1970. Oil field contamination was found and needed to be remediated.

These wells were marvelous producers of oil and gas. The wells initially flowed oil at a rate of 12,000 barrels (about 660,000 gallons) per day until their depletion in the late 1940s. Production figures for the site and vicinity indicate that from July 1928 to January 1931 a total of 1.3 billion gallons of oil were produced. The total production of oil was 5.5 trillion gallons for the field. Blowouts of natural gas occurred when the wells were first drilled into high-pressure pockets of natural gas. The natural gas escaped through cracks in the ground near the wells, and was generally impossible to stop. Once the wells were installed with casing, hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil were allowed to flow into pits dug in the nearby earth.

The remediation project required 10 years to complete from the time of property acquisition, assessment, and remediation up until completing post remediation monitoring and a closure letter was received from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The project is unique because the property’s previous operators funded most of the assessment and the remediation. The property contains a number of native plants and animal species that thrive and remain protected in the open space setting.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90088©2009 Pacific Section Meeting, Ventura, California, May 3-5, 2009