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Cleanup Of Nearly 30,000 Gallon Oil Spill Continues In Ventura County

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(VCFD Photo)
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Crews work to clean up estimated 29,000 gallon oil spill in hills northeast of downtown Ventura

It was just after 5:30 Thursday morning.

The loud rumbling of trucks sent Debra Lighter to the window of her home in Hall Canyon, a scenic neighborhood just northeast of downtown Ventura. Thousands of gallons of oil had leaked from a crude oil pipeline, creating a river of oil.

A passerby first reported flow of oil at about 5:30 this morning from Crimson Pipeline’s V-10 line, which moves oil from Ventura County to Los Angeles County. The pipeline was shut down, and Ventura City and County firefighters built berms, to help keep the oil contained debris basins for what’s known as the Prince Barranca.

Captain Mike Lindbury, with the Ventura County Fire Department, says the initial reports were that as much as 200,000 gallon of oil had spilled It turned out to be less than a sixth of that, about 29,000 gallons.  The spill came from a pipeline owned by Crimson Pipelines.

IKendall Klingler, who represents Crimson, says it appears the problem wasn’t with the pipeline, but with a valve. Klingler says the company had been replacing valves on the pipeline, and that the one responsible for the leak had been replaced Thursday. The company owns about a thousand miles of oil pipelines in Southern California. Federal records show the company’s pipelines have had 10 spills in the last decade.

Cleanup crews who took over for firefighters were on the scene by mid-morning, with huge vacuum trucks to suck up the small lake of oil. Rich Macklin, with the Ventura County Fire Department, says crews had to use ropes to get into the rugged barranca for cleanup efforts.

As a precaution, early on in the spill some firefighters were deployed near San Buenaventura State Beach, to act as a backup if any oil should make it through. It turns out the oil didn’t even get close. A Coast Guard helicopter also patrolled the coast, looking for oil which never appeared. Because of the rugged terrain, cleanup could take days.

An investigation is underway into the cause. No evacuations were necessary.

This was a different pipeline system, and a different owner that the one involved in the massive May, 2015 rupture in Santa Barbara County. The Plains All-American Pipeline accident released more than 140,000 gallons of oil, and took months to clean up from the ocean, and the soil.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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