On March 27, 2014, Global Community Monitor, The Center for Race Poverty and the Environment, the Central California Environmental Justice Network, and The Committee for a Better Arvin submitted the following letter to the Kern County Environmental Health Department and the Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources in response to a pipeline leak that was discovered on March 18, 2014.
This leaking pipeline was under a residential block of Arvin. It’s unclear how long the pipeline had been leaking, but some residents have claimed to have been smelling gas, in their homes, for at least four years. Residents have questions and we have yet to hear back from either agency.
March 27, 2014
Dear Mr. Constantine and Mr. Nechdom,
Eight families on Nelson Court in Arvin, California (Kern County) were evacuated on Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Residents were unclear and uninformed of the level of danger that the Petro Capital Resource’s leaking gas pipeline was causing.
The Arvin Bucket Brigade, a joint project with Global Community Monitor, Committee for A Better Arvin and Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, were contacted by Nelson Court residents. The air monitoring team took an air sample at 6:50 pm on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.
The air sample contained over twenty chemicals including elevated levels of cancer causing benzene and a mix of total volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The level of total VOCs in the sample collected at 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18th at 1312 Nelson Court in Arvin is 13 times higher than the levels the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) scientists have associated with adverse health impacts.
Residents have noticed chemicals odors for several months and have had varying health effects including nose bleeds, coughs and headaches. A pregnant mother passed out. These health effects show a strong correlation with VOC exposure.
Nelson Court and Arvin residents have many questions about this gas leak and the emergency evacuation:
1) How do you determine it is safe to return to my home? Will there be chemicals in my home?
2) How will Petro Capital Resource’s be held accountable for this leak?
3) How did the County determine that an emergency evacuation was needed at 7 pm March 18, 2014?
4) How many more pipelines like this exist in the area?
5) How will you keep these pipelines from leaking?
Our team will be following up with your office to discuss the air monitoring results, attached to this letter.
For clean air and healthy communities,
Jessica Hendricks, Global Community Monitor
Juan Flores, The Center for Race, Poverty & the Environment
Sal Partida, The Committee for a Better Arvin
Cesar Campos, Central California Environmental Justice Network