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California oil regulator confirms methane leak at idle oil wells in Bakersfield

Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"Any designation of this massive, toxic methane leak as minor or unthreatening to public health is a dangerous mischaracterization of what's going on, puts frontline families in Kern County at risk, and reveals that the current CalGEM administration is unable to follow its new mission" as promised by the agency in the last few years, Naseck said in a statement.

Local residents on Friday said they saw engineers and other workers arrive at the oil field and they're expected to remain at the site over the weekend.

Organizer Cesar Aguirre with Central California Environmental Justice Network has canvassed the surrounding neighborhood to inform residents about the methane leak and said several residents complained about feeling ill in the last few weeks.

"When I told them there is a gas leak in the area, their faces just went white, like they were in shock, because at one home there was four kids running around in the background playing and they had their windows open," Aguirre told the Times.

CalGEM is currently reviewing new statewide policies that would stop new oil wells from being built within 3,500 feet of areas from schools, homes, hospitals, parks and other places where people congregate.


Naseck wants to know why CalGEM doesn't push for setbacks to apply to existing well sites, like the one in Bakersfield.

"This massive methane leak is happening in a community right next to homes in close proximity to a school and a daycare center," Naseck said.


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