SUMMERLAND, Calif. - A giant barge with a crane and underwater support equipment is now working off the coast of Summerland where old abandoned oil wells, leaking for years will be capped.
The preliminary work began a week ago for the Northstar and Treadmill wells.
This is a specially funded project from the state.
The money is allocated at $2-million a year in Senate Bill 44, authored by Santa Barbara State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson who ushered the legislation based on research here and other areas where old wells were serious concerns.
More than 100 years ago these wells were among the first offshore drilling rigs in California waters. They were abandoned and the capping at the time was not strong enough to stop leaks. Pollution has been reported for years.
Many residents brought pictures to the County Board of Supervisors with complaints, but it took action by the State Lands Commission and the legislation to eventually move the project forward.
Historical photos show derricks throughout the nearshore waters and on the sand.
The fund pays for the well capping and the clean up of other coastal hazzards, such as old rusty pipes in the surfline. Some are off the coast of Goleta.
A previous project capped the Becker well nearby which had a leak that could often be seen from the bluffs nearby.
All have contributed to oil pollution on shore and infuriated Summerland residents for years when the currents sent the oil to the shoreline.
The work should be completed by the middle of the month.
The Santa Barbara based Heal the Ocean organization has been closely coordinating some of the mapping and aerial photography to bring the projects to the finish line.