Study: L.A. County's Urban Oil Wells Are Too Close to Homes and Schools

The Department of Public Health recommends taking action to better protect residents from oil operations that are sometimes only a few feet from where people live, work, eat, play and study.

2 minute read

March 7, 2018, 8:00 AM PST

By Katharine Jose


Oil Pump in Los Angeles

Sergey Novikov / Shutterstock

There are more than 5,000 oil wells scattered across Los Angeles Countywith more than 3,000 of them activeand at least some of them located within a few feet of homes, restaurants, schools, parks, or other public areas. 

A new report from the county Department of Public Health suggests the urban wells negatively impact the health of those who spend time near them, and recommends increasing regulation to mitigate those effects. 

From KPCC: 

"The study comes at a time when oil and gas companies in greater Los Angeles are under increasing pressure from environmental justice organizations who question whether it make sense to continue oil extraction in dense, urban areas — and whether the practice aligns with the state's climate goals." 

For many years, there has been ample anecdotal evidence—including an incident several years ago when EPA officials became ill after touring a site—that living near the wells causes "nose bleeds, headaches and difficulty breathing," but officially studying the issue has been challenging because it's difficult to determine what is caused by air pollution from the wells, and what is caused by air pollution from everything else. 

recent study from Occidental, however, found "heightened rates of asthma in densely populated Los Angeles neighborhoods located near active oil-development sites." 

And, according to KPCC, "the City of Los Angeles is currently studying the public health benefits and economic consequences of phasing out oil wells around schools, houses and other public places." 

"Uduak-Joe Ntuk, the city’s petroleum administrator, said he would use the county’s report in his analysis, but had no word on when it would be completed." 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in KPCC

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