A December 26 spill at a Greka Oil Company facility in northern Santa Barbara County wasn’t the last of the company’s problems for the year, as between 630 and 840 gallons of crude oil was spilled at its Palmer Road Bell Lease facility Saturday, December 27, and another 100 or so gallons spilled Sunday, December 28.
These accidents - combined with the at least 420-gallon spill that occurred on Friday - forced the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Fire Prevention Division to issue a stop work order for the facility “due to unsafe acts and conditions,” according to a press release from Fire Department spokesperson Capt. Eli Iskow. “Greka’s permit to operate this facility has been revoked,” he said.
The Saturday spill also allegedly included between 6,300 and 8,400 of gallons of produced water, a toxic byproduct of oil production. “Apparently, an operator error caused a relief valve to open and spill product down a ravine into a creek bed where the flow continued for approximately one-half mile down the creek,” Iskow said.
Sunday, three to four barrels of crude oil and an undetermined amount of produced water spilled out of a well as the result of a valve failure. It was the third spill in as many days.
Representatives from the County Fire Hazardous Materials Unit and California Department of Fish & Game are investigating the matter.
The stop work order will continue until the “failures have been investigated and corrected, and the facility is safe to operate,” Iskow said.