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City Seeks State Supreme Court Review of Macpherson Case

Hermosa Beach hopes to avoid impending trial by proving drilling is a health and safety threat.

The City of Hermosa Beach is requesting that the California Supreme Court review the Macpherson Oil case in order to avoid a pending trial that is tentatively scheduled for June.

The city made headway in the 11-year-old case when the California Second District Court of Appeal found that Hermosa Beach could deny a drilling permit if the city could substantiate that the drilling would pose a health or safety threat to the community.

The originally proposed plan was a type of slant drilling that would have been located at the city yard on Sixth Street and Valley Drive and would have lines running underground to extricate from reserves offshore.

City Attorney Michael Jenkins will be filing the appeal this month and remains optimistic that the city won't have to take the case to trial.

Jenkins said that the city has already proven that drilling was "hazardous to the community" and that the decision was "reasonable and supported by evidence."

According to an independent study conducted in 1998, the risk of fatalities resulting from drilling was found to be 1 in 3,000 and a 4 percent chance of a flash fire occurring offsite.

The City Council was granted the authority by the appellate court to revoke a drilling permit if "the permittee's operations pose a danger to the 'lives or safety' of persons."

The California Supreme Court has 60 days to decide whether to take the case. If the court doesn't take the case, it could take approximately two months before heading to trial.

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