Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and his staff have asked the county's public health director to "immediately consider" declaring a health emergency in and around the site of a hazardous oil leak in Livermore, where dangerous chemicals may have been contaminating drinking water supplies for months.
The request comes one day after the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovered inspection reports that said the leak contained "hazardous waste." In other county documents obtained by the Investigative Unit, inspectors said "crude oil" may have contaminated an underground "aquifer used for drinking water."
"We did know about it, but not to this severity," said Shawn Wilson, Haggerty's Chief of Staff. "We are very disappointed in the way it was handled."
Wilson says the county's Environmental Health Department, which cited the oil company for over a dozen violations back in July, did not adequately inform county leaders about the extent of the oil leak.
"Not informing us of the severity of the issue is quite appalling," Wilson said.
The Investigative Unit learned the county's Health Director, Dr. Muntu Davis, met late Wednesday afternoon with the county's Environmental Health Director, Ronald Browder, in hopes of learning more about the potential health risks associated with the oil leak.
A spokesperson for Davis said the county's health department needs to investigate the leak further before making an emergency declaration for communities in Livermore, but specifics on what that might include were not provided.
E&B Natural Resources previously declined to be interviewed. In a written statement, the company said it believes the leak in Livermore happened before it ever bought the oil field, which would mean the hazardous chemicals might have started to ooze into the soil more than nine years ago.
"In late March 2015, when E&B Natural Resources removed an unused storage tank, we discovered oil-stained soil underneath the unused tank," the statement said. "E&B has never used the tank. Any leak occurred prior to E&B's acquisition of the facility in 2006. The company takes full responsibility for cleaning-up the affected soil in a voluntary remediation agreement with the County."