As of 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20, explosive levels of methane were still escaping from a Greka Oil and Gas facility at 5200 Dominion Road in Santa Maria. Oil and gas were bubbling out of the ground when a hazardous materials specialist arrived at 5200 Dominion Road on in response to a written report that Greka faxed to the Fire Department at 11 a.m., said County Fire Department spokesman Eli Iskow.
Greka employees explained to the specialist that a one-inch diameter pressurized gas line had ruptured and that they were trying to isolate the correct valve in order to shut down the system. Iskow said that the specialist took air samples which showed explosive levels of methane gas near the source of the leak, prompting the specialist to summon an engine company and to evacuate the employees from the area.
At 1 p.m., a low level of explosive hydrogen sulfide gas was detected in addition to the methane, and one to two barrels (42 to 82 gallons) of oil had spilled; Greka has built a berm to contain the oil and keep it from moving into a nearby seasonal creek, Iskow said.