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EPA takes up groundwater exemption expansion for Arroyo Grande oil field

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A plan to expand an area approved for oil industry injection wells near Pismo Beach is now in the hands of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

The California Department of Conservation and State Water Resources Control Board submitted a proposal this week to the EPA after concurring in December that the aquifer exemption meets federal Safe Drinking Water Act criteria.

The EPA may follow up with some questions or request additional data during its evaluation process, which has no given time limit.

Back in August, State Oil and Gas Supervisor Steve Bohlen told KCBX the proposal is an effort to correct an ongoing condition at the Arroyo Grande Oil Fields.

"The oil field has over the years expanded into areas that, as it turns out, weren't exempt," said Bohlen. "So, we're in the process of—as part of our compliance schedule with the EPA to get the state back into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act."

Bohlen said the oil operations for this area are conducted by Freeport McMoran (Mac-Moh-Ran) Oil and Gas. He said the aquifer under the fields is self contained and does not mix with groundwater in surrounding areas.