Alternative Uses of the Oil Platforms Expo: desalination plants, aquaculture facilities?

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SANTA BARBARA—Above the surface, the rusty ghost town of several controversial offshore oil platforms sit vacant in the Santa Barbara Channel, but what happens next? Could they be desalination plants? Aquaculture facilities?

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will host various vendors to explore the options for these decommissioned plants at their Alternative Uses of the Oil Platforms Expo on Nov. 20. From 1-4 p.m. vendors, including private enterprises and nonprofit organizations, will be presenting their ideas at tables throughout the museum and via 15-minute presentations inside the Munger Theater. Those ideas include turning the structures into desalination plants, aquaculture facilities, renewable energy sources such as wind or wave power or even marine life reefs. Others support the complete removal of the structures, with some arguing abandoned oil rigs could release toxic chemicals into the water and create underwater hazards.

Vendors participating include Bardex, BOEM- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Pacific Region, HUBBS-Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute, Blue Latitudes, Environmental Defense Center and Pacific Ocean Energy Trust. Nonprofit organizations can become a vendor at the expo for $50 and private enterprises for $100.

A keynote speaker will close out the event from 4-5 p.m. on the museum’s main floor. The event aims to inform and educate the public about the different options available for creating alternative uses. SBMM said in a press release the expo will give the public the opportunity to be heard and to have input in the decision-making process as Santa Barbara Channel oil platforms move towards the next phase.

The expo is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP online or by calling 805-456-8747.

According to Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, the channel is home to 20 oil platforms, seven of which have shut down operations. The expo comes as officials try to figure out what to do with those decommissioned platforms. SBMM opened an exhibit on the area’s oil industry, the History of Oil in the Santa Barbara Channel, in 2018. The exhibit explores the history of the oil industry in the channel and the impact it has had on Santa Barbara shores.

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