Montecito Mud, Take 2; And a Big Oil Cleanup Gets Ready to Roll!

MONTECITO MUDSLIDE, TAKE 2

  Mike Eliason photo collage from David Diamant post on Facebook

Mike Eliason photo collage from David Diamant post on Facebook

There have been 57,431 views of Heal the Ocean’s editorial on the Montecito Mudslide, which we published as an E-letter sent to our members, and on our Facebook page. Our commentary was “liked” 710 times, shared 585 times, and commented on 114 times.  Most comments were favorable, in that the community has taken comfort in HTO support of the County’s cleanup of this environmental disaster – which includes dumping of mud on Goleta and Carpinteria beaches.
 
Nevertheless, there were objections (including one from an attorney). Heal the Ocean is an environmental group, and one of our mantras is “No Ocean Dumping.” How can you support this? Objectors asked. Our answer is this:
 
Good environmental work focuses on fixing, upgrading and cleaning up everyday, ongoing practices that pollute. A disaster of monumental proportions, such as the Montecito Mudslide, where a community or city has to dig out of a massive, tragic situation, is not everyday practice – and it is not a time to quibble. We must realize this is not business as usual, and support our emergency workers all we can. Once we get to the other side of this monster that has hit us, we will do all we can to clean up and fix.
 
In talking to officials, agencies and even the contractors hired by the County to dispose mud on the west end of Goleta Beach and on Carpinteria Beach at Ash Avenue, we reasoned among ourselves the fact that our community is in a lousy situation with no good choices. We must get behind the efforts of emergency workers struggling to open the 101 freeway, clear roadways of mud…as well as look for bodies. And then we pray for those who have been hurt by this disaster.
 
HTO would like to address some of the objections that have come in:
 
Why isn’t the mud being dumped in front of Montecito (Butterfly Beach)? It’s closer. (And isn’t this a case of rich people using areas used by less-fortunate people for their garbage?)
Montecito (Butterfly Beach) is part of the disaster area. It makes no sense to pick up mud from one part of a disaster area and put it back into the same disaster area. The following photos illustrate why Butterfly Beach (Channel Drive) would not be used as a mud disposal site:

Mud Channel Drive-biltmore.JPG

As for the rich people using beaches other than their own – economic differences are not taken into consideration by Public Works officials when strategizing how to clean up a vast, tragic, horrible mess such as this. The Montecito community has been badly hurt, there is no class distinction to death and destruction. (And comments like this is why Noozhawk has discontinued its blog comments on news stories.)
 
Why aren’t these trucks taking this mud to Tajiguas?
Tajiguas is 26 miles up the Gaviota coast. Round trips of 52 miles each would require tremendous energy and stretch cleanup time unreasonably. Time is of the essence – not only for finding missing persons, but the rains are going to come again. The 101 freeway is closed indefinitely, and the impact of that doesn’t need to be explained. Once again, this is a disaster of monumental proportions – Santa Barbara’s worst disaster since the earthquake of 1925 that nearly leveled the entire town.
 
Comments have been made about the County not having proper permits for mud disposal on the beaches (one of these comments coming from an attorney).
The County obtained Emergency Permits from the appropriate agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, Army Coprps of Engineers, - and it received a 401 Umbrella Emergency Permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
 
But the stuff is toxic – you can’t dump stuff into the ocean that’s toxic.
The truckloads are being inspected at both sites by environmental monitors. Those that don’t meet standards are turned away – to various dump sites, including a County dumping site off highway 154, the County’s own dump yard, and large debris is going to Ventura County Fairgrounds.
 
Once again, we see no wonderful solutions here in this disaster of monumental proportions. We must realize this is not business as usual, and support our emergency workers all we can. On the other side of this monster that has hit us, we will do everything we can to clean up and fix. We salute the individuals who are already out there on the beaches (those that don’t interfere with emergency operations), picking up plastic debris that has drifted into the ocean and spread up and down the coast. These individuals are thinking of how to help, rather than to criticize.
  
At the public information meeting Tuesday evening, January 16, 2018, at La Cumbre Junior High School, Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso emphasized the importance of beach workers to wear gloves and sturdy shoes. And please do not enter the restricted disaster areas.
 
For those who want to help with beach cleanup, Heal the Ocean is offering free sturdy gloves and bags to give to you. E-mail Corey at the office to arrange pickup of supplies corey@healtheocean.org.
 
Thanks to everyone who has come forward to encourage us. We need it, too!


NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS:
CAPPING OF BECKER WELL IS STARTING

  Becker Oil Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

Becker Oil Photo by Nora McNeely Hurley

The notorious Becker Well at Summerland Beach is soon to be capped! HTO has heard from the contractors capping the leaking Becker Well on Summerland Beach, InterAct, Ventura, that the Becker Well Re-Abandonment work will start in about 10 days. As planned, the work will be done from a barge, anchored just offshore. InterAct says barge loading of equipment will occur on January 25, 2017 and will arrive in Summerland on Saturday or Sunday, January 27 or 28, 2018 for work to begin.

The project is expected to take 4 to 5 days to complete.

We join California State Lands officials in thanking Summerland resident (and HTO huge supporter leading the charge of cleaning up oil off Summerland Beach) Nora McNeely Hurley for posting, as required, the project notice at Lookout Park and around Summerland. The notice has been sent to Summerland residents, and published in the Coastal View newspaper, in accordance with permit requirements.  (Please note: the dates of the project might change by a day or two).

At Heal the Ocean, we can hardly wait to get started!