WEATHER »

The Possibilities of Measure P


At night I can see the lighted oil rigs in the Solomon hills above our Los Alamos ranch, and I worry. Could a well failure contaminate our precious San Antonio Groundwater Basin?

“Loss of zonal isolation” (that is, the bad stuff goes where it shouldn’t) happens. If it happens in our groundwater basin, the consequences could be devastating for our town, our agriculture, and our tourism industries.

For me and my ranch, it would be “game over.”

Measure P proposes to ban fracking, cyclic steam injection, and acidization, techniques for increasing the amount of oil that can be recovered. How risky are these techniques? A 2008 conference paper by three Chevron engineers partly answers the question. Published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, it studied casing failures in 370 Chevron wells in a Kern County steam injection project. The authors found that casing failures occurred in about 1 out of every 5 wells. That’s a lot of failures.

To be fair, a casing failure does not necessarily result in a leak into the water table. But compared to conventional oil recovery techniques, this failure rate is high, so it’s also fair to say the risk of groundwater contamination is higher, too.

The producer gets a little more oil out of the ground, and I get an increased risk of groundwater contamination. I don’t like that equation. That’s why I’m voting yes on Measure P.

I’ll still worry, but maybe not as much.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



event calendar sponsored by:

News Commentary: Death Penalty Shouts and Whispers

Governor's reprieve has little effect in Santa Barbara, except in the Han case.

Goleta Planning Commissioners Just Say ‘No’

Vociferous comments from Old Town residents help tip the balance for oversight on cannabis storefront applications.

Bullet Holes Found in Goleta Barbershop Window

Public's help requested in shooting investigation.

Free Emergency Response Training

The Independent is hosting a CERT class with County Fire's Mike Eliason.

Investigators Say Edison Power Lines Sparked Thomas Fire

The utility is pushing back, claiming officials mishandled and ignored evidence.