LOS ANGELES — An oil and gas exploration company in Los Angeles has been charged with more than two dozen criminal counts after allegedly flouting a state order and failing to properly abandon its oil wells.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday that Allenco Energy will not be allowed to continue allegedly defying the law and disregarding its neighbors when it comes to environmental safety and health protections, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Chief Executive Clifford E. Peter Allen and Vice President Timothy Parker were also targeted in the misdemeanor charges filed this week. An Allenco representative reached Tuesday declined to comment.
The city attorney’s office said that the executives could face jail time if convicted.
California regulators ordered Allenco earlier this year to plug its wells and decommission the drill site, which would permanently close the inactive facility. But State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntu said the company deserted the site.
“The facility continues to be a potential risk to public health, safety, and the environment,” Ntuk said.
The criminal complaint says Allenco and its leaders failed to comply with a state order requiring the firm to plan out how to stop well operations to address potential leaks from deteriorating wells.
Allenco appealed, but Feuer said it was ultimately affirmed and “to date, Allenco has not complied.”
Allenco had agreed to suspend its operations at the site nearly seven years ago, after federal and local investigations were launched and an environmental team touring the site had been sickened by toxic fumes.
Feuer then sued and obtained a court order imposing new requirements if the company was to restart operations. Parker told state regulators in February that Allenco planned to sell its portion of the drill site, complaining that the state had made it too difficult to reopen it.
“We have spent tremendous amounts of capital trying to be compliant and prove that we are good stewards of compliance,” Parker said at the time.
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