Public weighs in on West Adams oil-drilling site

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City officials listened to the pros and cons of oil drilling in the West Adams District of South Los Angeles at City Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (KABC)

City officials listened to the pros and cons of oil drilling in the West Adams District of South Los Angeles at City Hall on Tuesday.

The site's current owner, oil company Freeport-McMoRan, is seeking zoning approval to drill one new well and re-drill two old wells to extract crude oil from a field at Jefferson Boulevard and Budlong Avenue, first operated in the 1960s.

But residents say it's time for the company to move out. They say the air in the neighborhood regularly stinks and is causing health problems.

It's not fracking and it's not a major operation, says the company.

"They are just changing their location slightly at the bottom hole," said Freeport-McMoRan representative L. Rae Connet.

Opponents overflowed the hearing room in Tuesday's meeting at City Hall. Their key objection is that the company wants to drill without conducting an environmental impact report. Neighbors say there is already impact.

"There is currently noise from their routine operations that is deafening," said local resident Jennifer Blue.

"They are a reckless company that is unfamiliar with regulation and safety needs for drilling in an urban area," said Donna Ann Ward, founder of CoWatching Oil L.A.

Opponents submitted photos of tanker trucks, labeled as flammable and corrosive. The oil company says the chemicals are similar to what is in household cleaners, that hydrochloric acid is not hazardous.

"It is in Febreze, Air Effects, Gain fabric softener," said Connet.

The L.A. City Council has approved drilling operations in other locations but now has questions for the city attorney.

The city of Compton recently banned hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," only to be sued by an oil company.

In the West Adams case, the zoning commissioner is taking the testimony under advisement while the city determines if it's time to do some legal exploration: whether zoning and land-use regulations should be updated.
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