Future Land Use
Chevron has evaluated various commercial uses for the site over the last few years. Both commercial development and/or solar energy have been evaluated and they were discussed at the “Notice of Preparation” public meeting held as part of the environmental review process in November 2014. Since that time, Chevron has undertaken more detailed evaluation of a commercial solar array at the PCPL/Fillmore Works site. It now appears a solar project may be a feasible alternative for the site and is an allowable use within existing County zoning for the property thus we will be actively pursuing this solar alternative.
On behalf of Texaco, Chevron is working under the direction of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to clean up the soil and groundwater on site. Texaco pays for this remediation. The work is conducted by independent, qualified contractors following rigid protocols and the work is inspected and thoroughly reviewed by the regulatory agencies.
The site is not being cleaned up to residential standards because the City of Fillmore does not support future residential uses on the property and it is not deemed an appropriate land use by Chevron. The EPA requires the site be cleaned up to a level that makes it safe for use by commercial workers.
Consolidating the contaminated soil on-site and placing a cap on it is more protective of human health and the environment than excavating and transporting the soil to an off-site disposal facility. Excavation and offsite disposal were considered as cleanup alternatives; however, US EPA determined that because the soil contaminants are at low concentrations and are not moving, an on-site remedy was preferred. Excavating the soil and disposing of it outside of Fillmore would require several thousand truck trips, a solution that poses more short-term health risks and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.S. EPA and Chevron will continue to work closely to ensure the long-term reliability of the cap. Monitoring is assured by various institutional controls including regulatory agreements and deed restrictions on the land. Additionally, Texaco plans to own the property long-term.
The groundwater contamination is the result of refinery operations. Refinery waste was disposed of in pits located on the property. Through the years, chemicals from the pits slowly seeped into groundwater located between 50 and 100 feet below ground surface. Waste material in the pits was removed in 1986 to stop any further groundwater impacts.
The areas of groundwater that contain dissolved benzene are called “plumes.” There are 22 monitoring wells placed in and around the groundwater plumes to track the benzene in the water. The wells are sampled routinely to determine if methods to reduce benzene, including naturally occurring biodegradation, are working. Results show benzene levels continue to decrease.
There are two reasons why the benzene is not moving.
- The groundwater aquifer is like a large sponge. The body of the sponge is rock, and the holes in the sponge are pore spaces in the rock. Water moves through the rock at a very slow rate (moving an average of six inches or less per day). The benzene in the water adheres to the rock particles, which serves to dramatically slow movement of benzene.
- Benzene in groundwater readily biodegrades. Benzene is a hydrocarbon molecule that is a food source for abundant microorganisms (bacteria) present in any aquifer. The bacteria break the benzene down, so that the chemical no longer exists. This process is just part of benzene’s chemical behavior – the State Water Resources Control Board studied plumes throughout California and found that 90% of all benzene plumes do not extend beyond 350 feet from their source.
Safety of Drinking Water
No. The City of Fillmore’s drinking water supply comes from groundwater wells located in the Sespe Creek area of northwestern Fillmore, more than a mile from the site and upgradient from the affected area. The City tests water before it is delivered to residents to ensure it meets state and federal health-based drinking water standards.
No. Evaluation of nearly 2000 air samples found that shallow soil chemicals of concern at the site (lead and PAHs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are highly unlikely to become airborne. Nevertheless, during field activities at the site we used aggressive measures to prevent dust from our work reaching the nearby neighborhood. Water was sprayed on active work areas and we applied soil stabilizers to add weight to exposed areas of soil. If conditions were too windy (wind speed greater than 25 mph) and on-site dust levels were high, we stopped work until conditions improved. We used a total of ten air monitoring stations (including two in the residential neighborhood) for continuous air sampling around the site during earthwork. All of our work is overseen by government agencies including the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District.
Health and Safety
No. Since the early 1980s, government regulatory agencies have overseen environmental sampling of soil, air and groundwater on- and off-site and human health and ecological risk assessments. The results have consistently shown that the site does not pose a health risk to neighbors. Additional environmental cleanup is necessary to prepare the site for future beneficial use.
Soil vapor studies were conducted in the neighborhood and on school grounds in the 1980s and again in 2006 and 2007. Shallow soil samples were also collected along the west side of Pole Creek channel. No elevated concentrations of site contaminants were found.
No. In 2006-07 we conducted soil vapor tests directly over groundwater areas that had the most benzene. The results showed that residents are not exposed to benzene in groundwater beneath the homes. The EPA states that a buffer of 15 feet between groundwater and soil surface is adequate to prevent significant risks, and the State of California calls for 30 feet buffer. In the case of the Fillmore neighborhood, groundwater is located more than 50 feet (or nearly two times the States’ conservative standard) below homes. The depth of groundwater has not been less than 50 feet since the homes were built. The neighborhood has always been safe from benzene vapor intrusion.
We do not believe that Fillmore residents were exposed to site chemicals before the main waste pit was removed. There are several reasons why:
- Refinery was shut down in 1950; many years before neighboring homes and school were built.
- No waste was added to any on-site pits after the refinery closed and the undisturbed main waste pit consisted of tarry material and dirt.
- An environmental study in 1983-84, before the pits were removed, found that the PCPL facility was not threatening human health.
- The waste pits were excavated in 1986 using special care to protect neighbors, school children, and Pole Creek.
- Soil and soil vapor samples taken from the 1980s to the present indicate that concentrations of contaminants at the site are below levels that could cause health effects to nearby residents.
California Cancer Registry Epidemiologist Dr. John Morgan reviewed confidential medical data specific to the Fillmore community and issued a report stating that Fillmore does not have a cancer rate higher than that of other communities. A copy of Dr. Morgan’s presentation from the February 28, 2013 Fillmore community meeting conducted by US EPA can be found here.
Is Chevron planning to conduct a human health study assessing impacts of past industrial activities on those living in Fillmore?
No. Extensive data collected from 1983 through the present, along with existing health risk assessments that have been reviewed by independent experts, show that the PCPL site has not and does not pose a risk to the Fillmore community.