Health and Safety
In Los Angeles, these risks are magnified due to the close proximity of oil development to highly populated areas that include schools, parks and homes. The health impacts of living near oil extraction sites are well documented: studies have shown that oil development can contribute to health effects such as headaches, upper respiratory illness, nausea, nosebleeds and a possible increase in cancer risk.
Los Angeles is already overburdened with smog and haze – meaning that areas exposed to the added pollution resulting from oil development comprise some of the most polluted zones in the country.
Drill sites in Los Angeles are known to leak hydrogen sulfide gas, which is toxic to humans even at low concentrations. The oil industry is California’s largest industrial source of volatile organic compound emissions, the key component of smog.
“Oil and gas development poses more elevated health risks when conducted in areas of high population density, such as the Los Angeles Basin, because it results in larger population exposures to toxic air contaminants.”
INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC ASSESSMENT BY THE CALIFORNIA COUNCIL ON SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Extraction sites emit known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. No one should be exposed to these toxins in their homes, schools or places of work - but that’s exactly what is happening in neighborhoods across Los Angeles.
The sad reality is that the majority of L.A.’s industrial oil activity takes place in low-income and minority communities, where residents aren’t afforded the same regulatory protections as individuals living in affluent areas. Drilling sites in south Los Angeles and Wilmington are on average 260 to 300 feet closer to homes than those in West L.A. and Wilshire, in addition to having fewer safety protections.
Angelenos living near drill sites must also live with the constant threat of catastrophic accidents. Spills of acids, toxic chemicals, or explosive gasses could put entire neighborhoods at risk. The AllenCo drill site in West Adams, a neighborhood in South L.A., was shut down after releasing toxic chemicals into the air and poisoning the community for over four years.
Due to the lack of transparency from the oil industry, local emergency response crews do not know that this dangerous activity is happening, let alone have comprehensive safety plans in place. Despite the extent of oil operations within its borders, the City of Los Angeles has no specific agency charged with overseeing the oil industry.