The push to put a lid on the sticky, smelly oil seeps that plague Summerland Beach sent crews from the California State Lands Commission and Ventura’s InterAct engineering firm to the sand earlier this week to launch phase one of a plan to properly cap the long-abandoned Becker well. During extremely low afternoon tides, bulldozers built a sand berm against a westerly swell as a backhoe excavated a deep, wide pit around the old Becker casing, a 7-and-3/4-inch pipe that tapped subsurface oil wells before it was inadequately sealed about a century ago. After taking measurements and assessing the condition of the pipe, crews marked the spot with a big blue buoy fastened to a 5-gallon concrete plug.
InterAct is now tasked with producing an engineering plan for the capping project. Total cost for this phase will be about $70,000, according to Steve Curran, a petroleum-drilling engineer with State Lands. Over the coming year, environmental-impact and safety studies will compose phase two, and optimistically, phase-three proper capping will take place next fall or winter, Curran said. Total cost has been estimated at upward of $800,000.