In recent months, CalGEM, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) have been working together to conduct joint field inspections of oil and gas wells in Kern County. This is an effort of the Methane Task Force to support the Assembly Bill (AB) 617 Arvin/Lamont Community Emissions Reduction Plan.
The Methane Task Force first formed in July 2022 and held its first public meeting in September 2022. The committee is led by CalGEM and CARB and includes representatives from the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).
Shafter Oil and Gas Well Joint Inspection (September 2023)
CalGEM, CARB, and the SJVAPCD conducted joint inspections in the city of Shafter on September 12-14. A total of 68 wells were inspected, all of which were within 3,200 feet of the Shafter boundaries or were identified as environmentally critical wells within a seven-mile radius. The joint inspection effort is in addition to regular inspections carried out by each agency.
Arvin/Lamont Oil and Gas Well Joint Inspection (May 2023)
Update: As of July 6, all of the 27 wells found leaking in the Arvin/Lamont community in May have been repaired. Most leaks were fixed by their respective owners. CalGEM repaired 11 leaking wells -- owned by Sunray Petroleum, Inc. and Blackstone Oil and Gas Co. -- to protect public safety and the environment.
CalGEM, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the San Joaquin Valley Air District jointly inspected more than 60 wells in the Arvin/Lamont area during the week of May 22 and presented the results at a community meeting.
This is an effort of the
Methane Task Force
to support the AB 617 Arvin/Lamont Community Emissions Reduction Plan. The joint inspection effort is in addition to regular inspections carried out by each agency.
Below is the full video recording of the Arvin/Lamont Community Steering Committee Oil and Gas Subcommittee meeting held on May 31, 2023.
Brief Inspection and Health and Safety Summary
Altogether, 68 wells within 3,200 feet of the Assembly Bill (AB) 617 boundaries for Arvin and Lamont were inspected. Of those, 27 wells were found to be leaking. Four were repaired immediately, bringing the total to 23 wells requiring remediation after the inspections. Inspectors from all three regulatory agencies (CalGEM, CARB, and SJVAPCD) were present at each well. The inspections occurred over three days (May 23 to May 25). The operators were onsite for most inspections.
Exposure to methane itself, except at very high levels, is not considered a direct health risk. However, methane leaks from oil and gas production facilities can be associated with leaks of other toxic compounds.
Complaints and Concerns
For immediate concerns about gas leaks, dial 911. This includes, for instance, if you hear leaking gas coming from a well or attendant facility, if you suspect gas might be bubbling up within the cellar of a well, or if you feel something like a seismic event could have disrupted oil and gas infrastructure—call 911 immediately.