Fires, Drought, Oil fields and Your Health and Safety

By Dr. Suzanne DeBenedittis, PhD

The Baldwin Hills/Inglewood Oil Field has been operating over 95 years with countless pipelines with more than 1,400 oil wells. As many as 430 or more of the wells produce over 5,200 barrels of oil a day. Fuel tank explosions in Northern California may be related to their Oct. 15 earthquake. What’s been done to assure our safety here?

The LA County Regional Planning Department, through unnamed reviewers (with ??? qualifications) indicate that “all’s well here.” Their current review of the oil field regulations (known as Community Standards District) was dismissive of safety concerns such as training the public on whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place in case of explosions, fires or toxic fumes.

They also dismissed the need to begin phasing out ongoing oil and gas production - a seeming contradiction to the LA Countywide Sustainability Plan that promises us a "A fossil fuel-free LA County” by 2045.

NASA has just shown that oil and gas production facilities are among the greatest contributors to the climate disasters (wildfires, etc.) we are experiencing. Both the United Nations and the Pentagon report the urgency to address climate change should be immediate. We must get off of fossil fuels by 2030 to prevent escalating climate disasters spiraling ever closer to our homes. Recent fires emitting increasing nanoparticles of toxins lead to more and more respiratory and other health issues.

If we do not address this now, when? The CSD review is open for community input until Nov. 23. Demand that in updating the oil field CSD regulations that are meant to protect us, the county include: that oil and gas production will be ended at the IOF by or before 2030. The second item that should be considered is for the sunsetting or shut down of the oil field with all wells within 2,500’ of populated areas.

Finally, they should immediately publicize how and when to shelter-in-place or evacuate if there is an event at the oil field. Submit these and/or your own comments ASAP before the Nov. 23 deadline. Send to Timothy Stapleton via email: or U.S. Postal Mail to Timothy Stapleton, Land Use Regulation Division, Regional Planning Dept, 320 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


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