Santa Maria Valley Sumps Program

ConocoPhillips is completing a program in the Santa Maria Valley to test former drilling sites for the possible presence of drilling sumps. Drilling for oil historically involved the construction of holding areas called sumps. These sumps were used to contain water, drilling mud and oily soil. Sumps varied in size but were often as large as the average size lot. Some sumps were removed when wells were plugged and shut down, while others were filled and covered with dirt in compliance with regulatory guidelines of that time period.

Some of the sumps in the Santa Maria Valley remain on open land, while others are located in or near areas that have since been developed for business and residential uses. Through historical records and aerial photographs, we have identified specific sites where sumps may have been built during the 1930s through the 1960s.

ConocoPhillips has identified and completed testing in the areas where we believe sumps might be located. We have removed several sumps and are continuing to work on others.

Soil testing

While we are currently focused on residential area sumps, we are also working with property owners on agricultural and commercial sites. ConocoPhillips staff members are working with property owners and appropriate regulatory agencies to test for sumps in these areas, discuss the cleanup options if a sump is found and begin cleanup efforts. A common method is to remove any sump material and replace it with clean soil.

Studies in the Santa Maria area and on file at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department which indicate that people are generally not exposed to buried sump materials and that they do not represent a significant health hazard. For additional information on these studies, please contact the Santa Barbara County Protection Services Division at (805) 346-8359