The Environmental Defense Center is suing the California Resources Corporation for allegedly contaminating Ventura waterways with polluted storm water runoff.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on April 5, claims CRC violated the Clean Water Act at its 5,757-acre South Mountain oil field, where it conducts oil exploration and development activities near the city of Santa Paula. Runoff from the oil field drains into the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek Watershed, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges that CRC is discharging more total suspended solids and other pollutants than permitted by water quality benchmarks and guidelines; does not execute mandated treatment controls at their drilling pads, access roads and other pollution sources; implemented an inadequate sampling and monitoring program; and failed to develop an adequate storm water pollution prevention plan, among other violations.
“The storm water pollution from the South Mountain oil field threatens water quality in two important Ventura County watersheds, both of which drain to area beaches,” EDC senior attorney Brian Segee said in a news release. “We hope that the lawsuit will compel California Resources Corporation to clean up its operations and meet Clean Water Act standards.”
The suit seeks to make CRC pay civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Water Act since April 5, 2011.
The EDC filed a separate lawsuit against CRC for similar alleged violations at its Rincon Grubb field that was settled in 2012.
CRC was created in 2014 when Occidental Petroleum Corporation, an international oil and gas exploration and production company headquartered in Houston, separated its California assets into an independent, publicly traded company. CRC is the state’s largest oil and gas producer on a gross-operated basis, the company said.
EDC is being represented in this action by Michael Lozeau and Douglas Chermak of Oakland-based environmental law firm Lozeau Drury LLP.
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]