David Mendez

Redondo neighbors put off by oil well work

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Rig hand Rick Meza atop the oil rig along the 700 block of Paulina Avenue. Photo by David Mendez


by David Mendez

Neighbors were alarmed last week when an oil rig rose above their homes on the 700 block of North Paulina Avenue, at the site of a demolished home.

But according to property owner Peter Schmidt, there’s no nefarious purpose there: His contractors are simply looking to re-abandon – or plug – an existing oil well at the site.

“It’s been known about the whole time,” Schmidt said. “I bought the lot knowing it was there and had to be re-abandoned — all of the neighbors knew too, it just had to be re-abandoned to current standards.”

The well, found under the front porch of the original home, was drilled in 1931 to a depth of 3,617 feet, and abandoned in 1970, one year before the original home on the property was built, according to state and county databases.

Well, abandonment is a process that seals an oil well to protect the oil-producing zone from damaging the rest of the environment. According to filings with the California Department of Conservation, the existing well is out of current standards, lacking adequate plugs and protective cement in casing.

According to contractor and site superintendent Chuck McCabe, the project was planned to be completed last week, but a few complications — including holes discovered in the casing — have lengthened the job.

The process included the discovery of about 40 barrels of oil still within the well, McCabe said. Removing that oil drew some neighbor complaints, particularly with regard to fumes. The prevalence of oil wells in the area worried one neighbor.

Lynn, who declined to give her full name, lives in the family home she spent her youth in and remembers when the well was active and productive.

“It’s kind of concerning. I don’t have to live next to it, but I can’t imagine how stressful it must be for people living a few houses from it,” Lynn said. “There were oil wells all along that hill…oil wells all over the city and the South Bay, and a lot of people are doing remodeling. Who is monitoring this, and who is responsible if someone gets a permit to excavate?”

Lynn feels that the city should let neighbors know when oil wells may be encountered during construction.

“If there’s any concern anyone needs to have for [oil wells], if it wasn’t capped off properly, it’s just information that people need to look at,” Lynn said.

According to both McCabe and Schmidt, the well re-abandonment project should be finished this week.

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