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Goleta’s last two offshore oil piers at Haskell’s Beach are being torn down

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Photo by Amanda Wernik
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Deconstruction of PRC 421-1 and 421-2 at Haskell's Beach.

From the shores of Haskell’s beach in Goleta, you can see two rusty old piers in the distance being slowly demolished by heavy machinery.

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Photo by Amanda Wernik
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Deconstruction of PRC 421-1 and 421-2 at Haskell's Beach.

These are the last-standing offshore oil piers in the Santa Barbara Channel, although they won’t be standing for much longer. The two piers were built in the 1930s for the Ellwood Oil Field, which was once one of the most productive oil and gas sites in California.

Remains of the once-vibrant oil field now lie dormant under the Pacific Ocean, after it was decommissioned in 2017, and its wells were plugged.

A California State Lands Commission (SLC) environmental impact report stated that with Ellwood Oil Field’s last two wells plugged, the Haskell’s beach PRC 421 piers have no further use and should be removed.

“There was a huge amount of oil and gas drilling in the late 1800s and early 1900s in this area,” said California SLC Chief of External Affairs Sheri Pemberton, “so it’s pretty significant that we’re at the point where we’re about to remove these two giant structures that remain.”

The SLC is in the process of dismantling the first pier right now, and crews are expected to begin removing the second pier in December. According to the SLC, removing the piers will prevent its harmful debris, including pieces of caisson containing hydrocarbon-impacted soil, from continuing to wash into the ocean.

“It was just sitting here idle, falling apart onto our beaches and into the water,” said Goleta Advance City Planning Manager Anne Wells.

goleta pier removal 3
Photo by Amanda Wernik
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Deconstruction of PRC 421-1 and 421-2 at Haskell's Beach.

Wells said the Goleta community is excited to see Haskell’s beach return to the untouched coastal beauty it once was, before oil and gas drilling took hold of Santa Barbara County’s state waters.

“You can see the big, heavy equipment that’s demoing the piers right now. You just don’t get to see that very often,” said Wells, gesturing towards the piers, “So it’s pretty exciting to imagine this beautiful, really pristine- will be pristine- coastline again, when those piers are gone in a couple months.”

The deconstruction of both piers is expected to be complete by early next year. Haskell’s beach remains open to the public, with the exception of a few sections of the beach that may close temporarily during operations.

Amanda Wernik is a reporter and substitute announcer at KCBX. She graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Journalism. During her time at Cal Poly, she worked as a news anchor for KCPR Radio and as an intern for the CJ Silas Show on ESPN Radio. Amanda enjoys surfing, reading, playing with her dog, traveling, and fronting her own rock band, Kiwi Kannibal.