Coastal Hazards and Legacy Wells

Weather systems and extreme storms can cause dangerous coastal hazards to surface on shorelines. The Commission, when funding is available, removes coastal hazards along the California coast. Examples of hazards are remnants of coastal structures, piers, oil wells and pilings, and deteriorated electric cables and old pipes. Many coastal hazards are located on public trust lands set aside for commerce, navigation, fishing, and recreation, and can impede coastal use as well as threaten public health and safety. The Commission is committed to protecting California's coastline and ocean resources through robust implementation of its coastal hazard removal program.

The coastal hazard removal program was initiated with an inventory performed in the mid-1980s that found over 400 coastal hazards in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. While some hazards were traced to responsible parties, most could not and consequently became the state's responsibility. With the assistance of grant funding, the Commission has enhanced the coastal environment by removing myriad hazards.

In 2010, the Commission received a $700,000 grant from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to remove hazards in coastal areas in the Santa Barbara Channel. The grant, funded by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, allowed the Commission to remove a panoply of coastal hazards, particularly those identified as most dangerous

Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara County

Casing Exposed image

The Becker onshore well at Summerland beach was drilled in the late 1800s, predating the creation of the Commission, regulatory agencies and well record keeping. The well, located in the surf zone, was not abandoned to modern standards and has a history of small but persistent oil leaks. Oil from the leaking well has been seen on the beach and in the ocean off Summerland Beach.

On October 29, 2015, the Becker well was successfully excavated and assessed. This is the first step toward capping and remediating the well.

Cleanup Casing Marked image

The work involved constructing a large perimeter dirt berm seaward of the Becker wellsite to divert ocean waves and to contain any oil seeping out of the sand removed during excavation. Crews worked quickly to excavate the wellsite and identify the Becker Well casing. The successful excavation of the well casing allowed the Commission's consultant, InterAct, to measure and assess the well casing's condition and to GPS the location for future remediation opportunities. Information from this work will be used to develop an engineering plan to properly re-abandon the Becker onshore well.

The Commission has been working for decades to remove coastal hazards along the Santa Barbara and Ventura coastline, where many hazards are concentrated. The Commission has successfully removed many of the hazards in these counties.

On October 4, 2011, City Council of the City of Goleta proclaimed it's appreciation of the Commission for protecting the environment and citizens of Goleta through implementation of the Beach Hazards Removal Project.

Summerland Seep Report Form

Please use this form to report oil seeps or sheens at Summerland Beach in Santa Barbara County.

Email the form to or contact the Santa Barbara field office at (805) 685-8502 for information about submitting the form or reporting oil seeps or sheens.


Petroleum Drilling Engineer
Steve Curran (562) 590-5201