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Brea : City Accepts Shell Offer to Check Drilling Sites

City officials have accepted an offer from Shell California Production Inc. to pay an independent contractor to check whether material on property next to the city is hazardous.

Earlier this month, Councilwoman Norma Hicks and others met with various county officials and Shell representative Bruce G. Kerr to discuss the site on Carbon Canyon Road and Valencia Avenue, where pits were used to temporarily store mud during an oil-drilling operation.

City officials want to be sure the drilling mud was removed before the pits were covered and has not spread deeper into the ground or over a wider area.

Kerr assured the officials that the dirt now covering the material is neither hazardous nor toxic.

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“If it’s not hazardous, that’s great. Then, we have to look at (whether it is safe to) build on it in the future,” Hicks said Wednesday.

Although not within Brea’s boundaries, the Shell-owned land is next to the city and could be annexed someday, Hicks said. Because of the potential for future development, the city is concerned about what material, if any, remains in the soil, Brea Development Services Director William R. Kelly explained, adding that an accumulation of clay, for example, could cause drainage problems.

The 18 pits were used while 18 oil-drilling pumps were in operation, Kerr said. While other oil pumps nearby remain active, drilling on the 18 sites in question was completed in the last 10 days and crews are now cleaning the area, he said.

Clarence Moore, supervising building inspector with the Environmental Management Agency, said that the company has 30 days to remove all equipment and clean the site. The drilling mud should be removed from the pits and dumped in a landfill, Moore said. The area is routinely inspected by various officials.

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When the city first raised concerns about the Shell property two months ago, state officials checked the site and found nothing wrong.


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