Coming on the heals of a particularly troubling rash of Greka Energy oil spills in the past eight weeks, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threw down a gauntlet yesterday, promising to fine the company up to $32,000 a day if they do not “immediately comply with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.”
Specifically citing a January 5 spill off Zaca Road near Los Olivos that sent more than 50,000 gallons of crude out in the world and a more recent January 29 spill in Northern Santa Barbara County at a facility that also leaked crude into a creek late last year, the EPA demands that Greka not only begin the immediate removal of oil and other toxic substances from the polluted areas - which include at least two creeks currently flowing towards the ocean - but also must develop a comprehensive plan for preventing further incidents. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the EPA on-scene coordinator Steve Calanog explained, in an audibly fed-up tone, that while it was “too early to tell” how much Greka would be forced to fork over, he promised, “There are no maximums to the potential fines Greka could face.”
Ironically, the EPA smack down comes just days after Greka publicly announced their new “Greka Green” initiative aimed specifically at cleaning up their 67 oil facilities in Santa Barbara County as well as construction measures designed to safeguard against future spills. Despite this promise from Greka, county officials revealed yesterday that since January 15 - when County Supervisors took action to try and curb Greka’s spill happy ways-crew shave responded to 18 separate infractions, including spills at places where Greka had been previously told to clean up their act.