Fire officials announced on Thursday that an oil pipeline in Ventura County had spilled approximately 700 barrels of crude, the equivalent of more than 29,000 gallons of oil, into a grassy canyon in Ventura, but, fortunately, emergency crews could breathe a little easier as the spill did not reach the nearby California county coast and the ocean, nor was there a need for evacuations.
The Ventura County Fire Department was called to the scene after the pipeline leak was first spotted at about 5:30 a.m. The spill occurred in a gorge known as Prince Barranca, and at first, it was said that the leak was on a massive scale and Ventura County’s Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery had estimated that the volume leaked involved about 5,000 barrels of crude. However, that figure was later analyzed again and changed. The newer, slightly less daunting figure arrived through a message on Twitter and stated that the leak actually spilled closer to 700 barrels. The ravine that is Prince Barranca ends at San Buenaventura State Beach near the Ventura Pier.
With there being about 42 gallons per barrel, it means that the crude leaked is up to 29,400 gallons.
Within a couple of hours of the discovery of the oil leak, the pump from where it flowed was shut down and Reuters reported that the pipeline company, Crimson Pipeline, had taken full responsibility for the oil spill through a regulatory filing. The area of Ventura, California where the oil spill occurred is a beachside community that is less than 97 km (60 miles) northwest of Los Angeles. Where the crude has spilled from the pump, it went on to practically form a small lake close to the homes that are situated on Hall Canyon Road and workers were brought in to attempt to contain the oil.
Fifteen city and county workers arrived to Ventura in white hazmat suits to begin the clean-up of the spill. Officials said that the hazmat suit workers used hoses to suck up the sticky mess of spilled oil and deposit it into trucks that were equipped to carry about 4,000 gallons each. Several spotters were stationed at various outflows into the Pacific Ocean to monitor if the crude would travel the mile from the site of the spill and flow into the ocean. Fortunately, Doug Allen, a supervising pipeline safety engineer for the state, reported by a phone interview that no oil had reached the coast.
Allen, who is also with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and as such has jurisdiction over the pipeline, also said that the crews had built an earth-filled dam to capture the oil about a quarter mile from the where the leak was. He reported that it “It seems like they stopped it.”
Officials stated that one of the reasons why the oil spill was able to be contained and prevented from reaching the ocean is because there is a natural catch basin in the area where the oil spill occurred that helped to capture the leaked oil. According to the LA Times, the crude oil has coated a number of rocks and creek beds in the area, though they have yet to determine the full extent of the environmental impact that the oil spill will have.
Lindbery did say though, that had the oil gotten into any storm drain system, the vapors from the crude could have been spread much more widely, especially if the temperature had gone up. As it is, though the vapors are a little concerning, authorities have not ordered mandatory evacuations, simply advising residents that if they are sensitive to the odor they should leave the area. They are monitoring the air quality.
Federal records have revealed that this is the 10th time in 10 years that Crimson Pipeline has seen a pipe rupture or fail. Since 2006 they have spilled approximately 7,453 barrels of hazardous liquid.
The cause of the leak is being investigated.
[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]