Unocal, government agencies, environmental groups reach settlement on Avila Beach cleanup
Avila Beach, Calif., June 16, 1998 -- After months of negotiations, Unocal Corporation, the State of California, County of San Luis Obispo and several environmental groups announced today that a final settlement agreement on the Avila Beach cleanup project has been reached. The settlement is an $18 million package that calls for Unocal to excavate the oil beneath the town and beach, pay $12 million dollars toward restoration projects, and perform other enhancement projects, including the implementation of the Front Street Enhancement Plan.
"We are pleased that an agreement has been reached," said Dennis W. Lamb, Unocal's manager of Avila Affairs. "If we are issued the necessary permits in a timely manner, Project Avila will begin this September."
The agreement settles all claims brought by the State of California, County of San Luis Obispo and environmental groups. It becomes officially binding when filed with the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. It is anticipated the agreement will be filed in the next few days. Individual private property and business-related claims are not included in the settlement.
The majority of the $12 million in cash will be spent on local environmental projects. From the beginning of the negotiations, Unocal supported allocation of settlement dollars for local projects in the community of Avila Beach.
"We're encouraged that most of the settlement money will stay in Avila Beach where the project is located," Lamb said. "It was our goal from the start to keep the majority of the settlement dollars where people and businesses will be impacted by the excavation."
On June 2, 1998, Unocal submitted a detailed implementation plan for Project Avila to the County. The plan includes an overall project description, a timeline of construction activities, and addresses mitigation measures outlined by the County and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The permit portion of the Implementation Plan will be reviewed and approved by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission on June 25. If approved, the California Coastal Commission could issue a land-use permit in August 1998.
"We are anxious to get started," stated Lamb. "But we still need to be issued the appropriate permits before the project can begin."
Project Avila is scheduled to begin this September and be completed by the summer of 2000. For additional information, visit the Project Avila web site, www.projectavila.com.
Summary: The settlement is an $18 million package that calls for Unocal to excavate the oil beneath the town and beach, pay $12 million toward restoration projects, and perform other enhancement projects. The cost of the excavation project is not included in the $18 million package.
$12 Million Cash
$6 million to the Avila Restoration Fund, administered by the California Department of Fish and Game
- $2.5 million for biological studies and restoration projects as a result of oil spilled in Avila Beach
- $3.5 million for restoration projects related to lost recreational use as a result of oil spilled in Avila Beach
- $3 million to the Avila Beach Community Foundation, administered by the Avila Beach Community Services District
- $1 million to the Avila Endowment Fund, administered by the Regional WaterQuality Control Board
- $1.5 million in attorney's fees for Communities for a Better Environment, Environmental Law Foundation and Avila Alliance
- $500,000 to the State Oil Spill Response Fund
Additional Enhancements (valued at up to $6 million)
- Up to $3.5 million to implement the Front Street Enhancement Plan
- Up to $500,000 to build a community park in Avila Beach
- 3 parcels of Unocal land in Avila transferred to the County of San Luis Obispo
Parties Signing the Agreement
- Unocal Corporation
- County of San Luis Obispo
- Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- California Department of Fish and Game
- Avila Alliance
- Communities for a Better Environment
- The agreement will be filed with the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County. It is anticipated this will occur in the next few days.
- The agreement settles all claims brought by State of California, County of San Luis Obispo and environmental plaintiffs.
- The settlement does not resolve private property or business-related claims brought by individuals.
Updated: June 1998