Inglewood Oil Field is Killing Us

  • Posted on 31 July 2019
  • By Nicole Levin
Courtesy of the Angeles Chapter Central Group
The largest urban field in the nation is right here in Los Angeles – right in Kenneth Hahn State Park. Pump jacks next to playgrounds, homes, schools, and playgrounds. Over 550 active oil wells, pumping millions of barrels of oil a year.
The Inglewood Oil Field – technically located in Baldwin Hills – is a public health risk to those living around it and to the greater Los Angeles region. It’s time for a just transition and phase out of the oil field.
Toxic chemicals are released during pre-production, drilling, transmission and storage; even an abandoned well can contribute to air pollution. We’re talking methane, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, just to name a few
These chemicals cause diseases ranging from mild respiratory illnesses to birth defects, increased rates of heart disease and cancer. And, of course, these chemicals hit the people in the community the hardest. According to data from the California Department of Public Health, in the Greater Baldwin Hills region, where the Oil Fields are located, there were four times as many asthma related ER visits as in the rest of the country. Our addiction to oil is killing many of us.
Oil drilling in Los Angeles is also an environmental justice issue. There are several schools and childhood facilities in the area and nearly a million people within a five-mile radius. According to the most recent Census data the area is predominantly African-American. All Angelenos have a right to clean air.
These wells are not well maintained. In the past year there have been two oil and water leaks in the community. In April a spill blocked traffic and last Thanksgiving there was a leak which lead to concentrations of benzene seven times the EPA’s legal limit. I was at the committee advisory meeting when representatives from the oil company showed slides of the benzene cloud in the area. While the company tried to downplay the impact claiming that some people had headaches, we know that exposure to benzene can cause cancer.
These oil fields are deadly at a national level too. Extraction and burning this fuel contributes to climate change. Data analysis estimates that the fuel burned from the entire L.A. Basin is equal to the annual emissions of 9.6 million passenger vehicles or 11 coal plants.
The Inglewood Oil Field should have been phased out years ago; in fact, Culver City already voted to phase out the ten percent of the field they control. But it is not all bad news. We have a rare opportunity to take action, demand that this oil field be transitioned to a natural park.
Currently, the remaining ninety percent of the oil field regulations are under review and being updated this year. There is room for public comment in the process – room for those in the community to speak up, explain how they have been affected, and share the vision they have for this region. Yes, Inglewood Oil field is poisoning our city, but we have the opportunity to transform it into a healthy green space we can all enjoy. If you’re interested in getting involved, please join the fight.
Courtesy of the Angeles Chapter Central Group


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