- Reporters Desk
By Shirley Hawkins, Random Lengths Contributor
Carson residents, community activists and concerned citizens gathered at a city council meeting at Carson City Hall April 15, to voice their support for the city’s 45-day moratorium that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, — a method of oil and gas drilling that has been linked to health hazards, including respiratory ailments and cancer.
Carson is the first city in California to vote unanimously for moratorium against fracking, which injects a mix of water, chemicals and sand into the ground at high pressures to fracture rock formations and free trapped oil. That could lead to water and soil contamination. The method also generates vast amounts of toxic waste by trucking in heavy equipment and materials that contribute to air and water pollution. The moratorium is being imposed until May 2.
The moratorium has placed a halt on the drilling plans of OXY USA Inc., a subsidiary of Occidental Corporation that is planning to drill 200 new wells in Carson’s Dominguez Oil Field over the next 10 years.
“There are 600 abandoned wells in the Dominguez Oil Field, and their condition is unknown,” said resident Dianne Thomas, who attended the council meeting and has lived in Carson for 43 years. “If OXY resorts to high pressure drilling, they could compromise the existing 600 wells and create a potential for an explosion—it’s a dangerous situation.”
Despite concerns, OXY USA company officials have vowed not to use hydraulic fracturing, since they believe it would be ineffective in the area’s sandstone deposits.
There are no regulatory guidelines in place for fracking, which has already been banned in 230 communities. Observers believe the use of fracking has hit fault lines that have lead to recent earthquakes.
At the meeting, union members of AFL-CIO Local 11 delivered testimony that allowing OXY USA to allow the drilling would provide “hundreds” of jobs and generate millions of dollars for Carson.
Community activist Robert Lesley felt that the information is misleading.
“Local 11 is working with Watson Land,” Leslie said. “Watson owns the land and mineral rights of the Dominguez Oil Field and they are working with OXY USA to push the Dominguez Oil Field forward…. Representatives of OXY were urging community residents to sign cards in support of the drilling.”
At the meeting, Thomas held up a lemon with brown spots that was linked to water contamination.
“If you would not drink lemonade made from this lemon, then you should not be supporting this project,” she told attendees. “We don’t want any more contamination in our city from the OXY project. This lemon is proof of it.”
“We are trying to stop our neighborhoods from the destruction of this proposed oil drilling project,” said Latrice Carter, a resident of Carson for 17 years. “From what I have read, oil drilling causes the contamination of water, earthquakes, and contributes to soil shifting underneath homes that lead to the cracking of home foundations. We are urging all residents to come out and support this moratorium.”
A subsequent meeting at city hall is set for April 29, during which Carson residents will vote on whether to extend the moratorium against fracking for a maximum of another two years.