LOIS HENRY: Pollution plumes stopped by drought but how much longer for cleanup?
LOIS HENRY: Pollution plumes stopped by drought but how much longer for cleanup?.
The good news is that more than 40 million pounds of petroleum hydrocarbons have been sucked — literally — out of the ground around the former Shell Oil (now Alon) refinery on Rosedale Highway.
In fact, the plume is shrinking.
The bad news is there’s really no telling how much work remains before the site is “clean,” according to Doug Patteson, a supervising water resource control engineer for the Central Valley Regional Water Resources Control Board.
But, at least Shell isn’t dragging its feet any longer as The Californian discovered back in 2007.
Back then, we learned the Regional Water Quality Control Board had been playing letter tag with Shell for the better part of 10 years while remediation efforts stalled.
It was a 300-acre plume of highly volatile gasoline, diesel and some crude oil that had leaked onto the ground for so long it had reached depths of 200 feet in some places.
Even so, the state didn’t issue a formal enforcement order until the plume began migrating off refinery property in the late 1990s.
Shell promised to clean up the plume plus pay a fine of $250,000 and, for good measure, restore habitat on the Panorama Vista Preserve.
CARB bureaucrats didn’t bother to go beyond the octane information about MTBE or they would have also learned it is highly volatile, water soluble and long-lasting, making it a hugely expensive and rascally contaminant to try to control.