AVILA BEACH CALIFORNIA
At the beachside town of Avila Beach, Unocal Oil faces angry residents because their beloved downtown is being razed and rebuilt, displacing businesses and homes until at least the year 2000. In addition, some residents are claiming that various health problems are tied to the pollution. The Avila Beach contamination is primarily from underground pipelines carrying crude oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel to the Unocal pier from an adjacent tank farm and fuel to the storage area from tankers. In operation since 1910, the terminal is only about 15 miles from the Guadalupe Dunes spill at the northern end of San Luis Bay. Five of ten pipelines were active until 1996, when terminal operations ceased and Unocal filed a cleanup and abandonment plan. Two years prior to that, Unocal started a major beach excavation, removing and cleaning 7,500 cu yd of sand over a 2-year period. Unocal must raze 23 buildings downtown, some of which are homes and apartments, in order to excavate below them. The total spill volume is estimated at nearly 10,000 bbl and will take about 18 months to clean up. The project began in November and affects 9 acres of the 58-acre town. Altogether, 400 residents will be displaced.
Overall, Unocal will excavate an estimated nearly 7,000 truckloads of polluted sand.
Unocal has already excavated 220,000 tons of sand at the beach area in 1994 as the result of an emergency abatement order. It used thermal de sorption, or baking the oil off contaminated sand at 700? F. in large, revolving kilns. The desorption units used were the largest in the U.S. at that time.
1998-06-18 04:00:00 PDT AVILA -- In one of the biggest environmental settlements in California history, Unocal has agreed to pay up to $200 million to remove a massive oil spill beneath the Central Coast tourist town of Avila Beach. Unocal will literally destroy the San Luis Obispo County hamlet in order to save it. The streets will be dug up to get at the 400,000-gallon petrochemical reservoir, a potent brew of gasoline, crude oil, diesel fuel and other noxious substances. The entire business district and about six square blocks of private dwellings will be demolished and rebuilt. Excavation is expected to start by the end of the year, and nobody knows when residents will be able to move back in. .. SFGate Environmentalists call the deal unprecedented because it resulted from a unique application of Proposition 65, the 1986 toxic substances initiative, paving the way for similar legal actions in the future. Although Unocal originally fought the lawsuit brought by environmentalists, company representatives said a recent decision to toughen cleanup standards made the company decide to settle and proceed speedily.