Charging that Greka was moving way too slowly, the federal Environmental Protection Agency assumed control of clean-up operations of the oil company’s leaking facility at its Bell Canyon lease outside of Santa Maria. The EPA said the operation would cost $900,000 and that it intended to bill Greka for its work. A public relations firm hired by Greka has disputed the EPA’s contention, insisting the environmentally challenged oil company had taken steps to clean up the site in a timely fashion. While Greka is one of the smaller oil companies in the state, it ranks at the top of the list in terms of leaks, spills, and safety mishaps.

March 28 marked the first day of Lake Cachuma’s new security measures designed to prevent infection of the body of water with the invasive quagga mussel, whose tendency to glom onto flat surfaces could obstruct South County water ducts. The measures, which the Board of Supervisors approved on 3/25, make for an estimated 30-minute wait for anyone taking a vessel into Cachuma for the first time this season.

Los Padres National Forest officials announced this week that an estimated 167 miles of Zaca Fire-ravaged backcountry trails are scheduled to open to the public on 4/4. However, prospective hikers are urged to take caution, as environmental hazards such as loose soil and rocks pose physical threats. Closed since the Zaca Fire began last July, the affected area will likely remain dangerous for years yet.


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