Tom Parker, the former FBI agent Greka Oil and Gas, Inc., hired to investigate a spate of spills from its Santa Barbara facilities, has found evidence “that the individual or individuals responsible have an insider’s knowledge” of the industry, the company announced on February 8.
Greka’s troubles began December 7 with a 50,000 gallon leak which the company now claims happened because somebody “tampered with a primary water-injection pump at the Palmer Road facility, shutting it down and causing the spill.” An alarm system should have alerted the company to the pump’s shutdown, but that too “appears to have been tampered with,” according to Greka.
Parker found that a virtually identical chain of malfunctions caused the January 4 spill—this time involving an injection pump that according to the company had been found to be working perfectly in a recent test. In addition, a containment berm surrounding the facility was sabotaged, the Greka statement continued: Someone “cut open the cap of an abandoned and sealed drain pipe,” allowing the effluent to escape the containment area. The alleged saboteur must have had expertise in this type of equipment “in order to set up the sequence of events that would lead to these two spills,” read the statement, which speculated that the crime might have been committed “by a current or former employee of Greka or one of its competitors.”
The evidence has been handed over to the Sheriff. Since the December 7 spill, inspectors have found numerous infractions, including spills, linked to Greka’s aged and malfunctioning equipment; the Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to levy a $32,000 per day fine if Greka does not clean up its act, and most of the company’s operations in Santa Barbara have shut down. In response, Greka has vowed to continue its “Greka Green” repair and cleanup initiative, threatened to lay off 100 workers in North County, and claimed that the spills were the result of sabotage. Previous to its February 8 announcement, the company’s cries of sabotage were based primarily on the fact that some of the spills seemed perfectly timed to embarrass the company.