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Smell in Goleta prompts stop order for water drilling operation

County health officials ordered a property owner in Ellwood Canyon to stop agricultural well drilling operations after multiple complaints about a foul-smelling odor in Goleta.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Takashi Wada said several of county agencies started receiving complaints from Ellwood and Winchester Canyon neighborhoods over the weekend.

“When the investigation revealed that the likely source is the agricultural well drilling operation, The Public Health Department responded and issued a work stoppage order yesterday afternoon about 2:30 p.m.,” Dr. Wada said.

The agricultural drilling operation which is on private property likely released hydrogen sulfide into the air.

The Air Pollution Control District set up portable monitors near the site which detected the chemical.

Dr. Wada said the health department received a few reports of minor health complaints from the stench.

“In certain sensitive individuals, it can cause mild temporary health effects like a headache, nausea, eye irritation, and respiratory irritation,” Wada said. “At the levels we are detecting, it’s many, many times lower than what would cause any kind of serious heath effects.”

Dr. Wada said the well was plugged which should mitigate the smell. He also said the work stoppage order will stay in place until a plan to mitigate the smell is presented and approved by health officials.

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