Your article titled “Suit Says Oil Company Fouled Land, Deal” (Dec. 17, 2011) quoted extensively from an inflammatory lawsuit filed by Pleasant Valley Ranch against Tri-Valley Corp., but omitted critical information that would have told a more accurate story.
There was never any threat to public safety, the ground water or agriculture in connection with contamination at our drilling site leased from Pleasant Valley Ranch. These facts were substantiated by an independent study completed in September 2011 by Sespe Consulting, a respected local environmental consulting firm, and submitted to the Ventura County Health Department. But they were not included in the article.
Instead of citing this publicly available evidence, the article referred only to unsubstantiated “preliminary evidence” from the plaintiff’s lawyer that Tri-Valley’s drilling operation was allegedly the source of contamination elsewhere on Pleasant Valley’s property.
The lawsuit claims that company management failed to tell the investing public of the alleged contamination in violation of applicable securities laws. Tri-Valley strongly denies this allegation and believes that it has complied, since the inception of the matter, with all applicable securities laws and disclosure obligations relating to the alleged contamination.
Following the completion of Sespe’s independent study in September 2011, Tri-Valley disclosed the matter in its 10-Q for the third quarter ended September 30, 2011, as reported by the Business Times. The disclosure preceded the filing of the lawsuit and was made in accordance with SEC requirements once Tri-Valley had a more complete understanding of the facts and circumstances of the situation and their potential impact on the company.
Since its inception 50 years ago, Tri-Valley has endeavored to be a careful steward of our environment and a positive addition to the communities where we live and work. When we established operations in Ventura County in 2006, we went out of our way to hire locally and be part of the community.
Our first drilling operation was initiated on a three-acre parcel leased from Pleasant Valley Ranch in the Oxnard plain, which is host to many other oil producing operations. The issue of contamination at our site arose in November 2010, after which Tri-Valley promptly and voluntarily launched a clean-up program in conjunction with the County of Ventura.
Sespe conducted significant onsite testing and data collection, which was witnessed by Pleasant Valley Ranch, in order to accurately assess the nature and extent of contamination from a petroleum derivative used in the processing of super heavy oil produced at the Pleasant Valley Ranch site. While Sespe’s study confirmed the existence of this derivative in the ground beneath our site, it also concluded that the contamination did not migrate to off-site groundwater. As such, it did not threaten nearby crops or public health. Sespe’s test data and results were voluntarily shared with Pleasant Valley Ranch, but we have not been privy to similar data collected by the ranch.
Despite our voluntary and ongoing program to clean up the contamination, on Nov. 29, 2011, the ranch filed a lawsuit against Tri-Valley Corp.
I thank you for publishing this letter so that your readers have a better understanding of this issue.
President and CEO