Hazmat teams are at the site of another coastal California oil spill, this time in Ventura County where an underground pipeline owned by Crimson Pipeline is said to have released about 30,000 gallons of crude oil into a gorge.
The good news is that initial reports estimated that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of oil had been released, but that number was later reduced to 700 barrels (29,400 gallons). Ventura County officials also said that while the oil formed a small lake across the street from a Hall Canyon Road neighborhood, it failed to enter storm drains or barrancas that empty to the sea.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura County Fire, Ventura City Fire Department, and other agencies are responding to the spill. The U.S. Coast Guard has also dispatched a crew off the coast with oil booms in case the spill makes its way to the Pacific.
Ventura County officials said that Crimson Pipeline was able to shut down the pipeline within a couple of hours. They do not expect any more oil to result from the immediate breach, which reportedly occurred near a joint in the pipeline.
No mandatory evacuations have been ordered, but County officials are warning nearby residents to move from the area if they feel sickened by the fumes. The environmental impact is still being assessed.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the spill was first spotted in the Prince Barranca gorge about 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The spill is the 10th time in 10 years that Crimson Pipeline’s pipes have failed and resulted in oil spills. The company is responsible for releasing about 7,500 barrels (315,000 gallons) of oil since 2006, according to the Department of Transportation, which regulates oil pipelines.
Crimson Pipeline owns about 1,000 miles of pipeline that run throughout California.
The oil spill comes little more than a year after a breach in a pipe owned by Plains All American Pipeline released 143,000 gallons of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara, Calif. While most of the spill stayed on land, thousands of gallons entered the Pacific Ocean and formed tar deposits that were found as far away as Manhattan Beach more than 100 miles southeast.
In May, Plains All American Pipeline was indicted on 46 criminal counts, including four felony charges of knowingly discharging a pollutant into state waters, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Houston-based company faces millions of dollars in fines and its regulatory compliance officer also faces criminal charges.
“We will never forget what we experienced in the days following that spill: a half-mile slick of crude oil along our coast, the stench of petroleum, oil-drenched birds, holiday visitors sent home and a beach transformed into a toxic cleanup site,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).
An attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said the spill provides yet another example of dirty oil fouling California’s once-pristine environment.
“This major spill is another grim example of why we must get pipelines and oil drilling out of California’s vulnerable coastal environment. The spill’s already causing environmental damage,” the lawyer said. “We’ve got to stop thinking about these oil spills as accidents and start regarding them as completely predictable ecological tragedies that we can prevent with strong action.”