Massive Police Raid on traditional small petroleum producer in southwestern New York
On Wednesday, police units with 38 separate vehicles, plus several all-terrain vehicles (ATV's) and several tracking dogs, raided an innocent small oil producer in the town of Carrolton in Cattaraugus County and shut down his operation, barred access to his home, and raided and prevented all access to his business office.
Mike McCaffery, the petroleum producer, has a traditional operation in Cattaraugus County in an oil field in southwestern New York. The shallow oil field is part of the Pennsylvania Oil Field region, which was the birthplace of the oil industry over 150 years ago. Today, although the volume at each well is relatively low, with many producers using traditional methods, enough Pennsylvania Grade Crude is extracted from the combined volume at the wells to feed two refineries employing hundreds of people.
Mr. McCaffery's oil production is typical of many in the area and is not a source of pollution. No justification can be seen for the DEC's selecting Mr. McCaffery's operation for such a raid or for the raiding his operation at all.
The police units that invaded Mr. McCaffery's oil production on the south side of the Allegheny River in the Chipmonk Valley included New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) enforcement agents, state troopers, State Forestry police, County Sheriff police, and Soil Conservation Service police. The agents also obtained a Buffalo state judge's search warrant for the property and also to raid Mr. McCaffery's office in the old Limestone School building and closed it down.
Officers on ATV's spread out over the property to take samples and determine violations.
The enforcement agents forbade Mr. McCaffery from having anyone else on the property, and even stopped him from inviting a friend to keep him company for the uneasy night at the trailer where he lives at the oil field. A number of enforcement agents returned today, Thursday, and continued to interrogate him and to take samples.
Like other small producers, Mr. McCaffery gathers the unique crude oil in a tank and it is hauled to a refinery, first separating out the produced water that typically flows out of the wells with the oil. The produced water in this area was typically allowed to drain into nearby streams, where trout continue to flourish, but the producers now either haul it to a special facility, which is cost-prohibitive for the small producers, or let small quantities drain into the ground. The plants flourish with the additional micronutrients in the produced water. It is possible for leaks of minuscule amounts of the extremely light crude to accidentally be lost on the ground and gradually biodegrade. The quality of the famous Pennsylvania Grade Crude is so fine that it has been used as the base for skin ointments, cosmetics, medicines, food additives, fine waxes, and many other products over the years.