press release

Unocal begins demolition phase of Avila Beach cleanup project

Avila Beach, Calif., Nov. 24, 1998 - Unocal Corporation today began demolition of structures on a one-and-one-half-block-long section of Avila Beach's business section. This is the first step in the 18-month-long Project Avila to clean up hydrocarbon contamination under portions of this California Central Coast town.

"The demolition of buildings along Front Street is a key step in fulfilling our commitment to this community to clean up the contamination," said Bill Sharrer, who manages the project for Unocal. "Removing these first buildings means that our cleanup project has actually started, and the residents can now look forward to completion by the summer of 2000."

Sharrer went on to say that the community has already begun planning for the rebuilding of Avila Beach once the project is completed. "The community has the opportunity to design a town that meets the needs of all of its residents," he said.

Under the permit conditions, Unocal will reconstruct Front Street infrastructure and replace utilities in the community that were relocated during the excavation. Development of individual lots will be up to the property owners.

The objective of Project Avila is to remove petroleum hydrocarbons that leaked over a period of many years from pipelines along Front Street when Unocal operated a marine terminal in the beach community. Unocal ceased terminal operations in 1996, and earlier this year, the company removed the storage tanks at the terminal that overlooked the town.

Less than 6 acres, or about 11 percent of the town will be excavated. The project also includes excavating about 3.5 acres of the beach. The work will be divided into three cells, two in the town and one on the beach. The first demolition involves commercial structures in the Cell One area in the west end of the town.

While the excavation involves most of the businesses in town, only 27 of the community's 215 residential units (including apartments and condominiums) will be demolished. About 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed and trucked to an appropriate treatment/disposal facility.

"We have taken extensive steps to reduce the inconvenience to the community during the project," Sharrer said. He noted that a claims office was opened in the community to provide compensation to business employees, renters and homeowners who are affected by the excavation project.

For more information and project updates, visit the Project Avila web site at, or call the Project Avila hotline at 1-877-UNOCAL-7.

Updated: November 1998