Reports of oil spilled in the Hall Canyon area in Ventura came into the Office of Emergency Services at 5:33 a.m. Thursday morning. The initial estimate of amount spilled was up to 5,000 barrels, but that has now been downgraded to about 700 barrels, or 29,400 gallons.
“The threat to forward progress has stopped,” said Ventura County Fire spokesperson Heather Sumagaysay. There is no threat of the oil reaching the ocean, she added, though the U.S. Coast Guard has been notified.
Early this morning, oil spilled out of a 10-inch pipeline owned by Crimson Pipeline — the cause is still under investigation — down a canyon and into a dried creek for about a half-mile, Sumagaysay said. It is unclear exactly how the oil was stopped, she added. Ventura County Fire contained the spill in a drainage basin. The state’s Office of Emergency Services hazmat crew was dispatched, and a Unified Command formed.
A Crimson Pipeline employee reported the incident to the state’s Office of Emergency Services at 5:50 a.m., according to Amy Norris, spokesperson for the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR). OSPR is traveling to the scene, she added. Crimson has taken responsibility for the incident, Norris said. She could not confirm the amount spilled.
Multiple oil companies — including Aera Energy, which produces oil onshore at the Ventura Oil Field — transport their oil through this pipeline. An Aera spokesperson said they have offered to assist Crimson and “stand ready if they ask.”
The National Response Center received a call at 6:26 a.m. that the pipeline had been shut down, according to state OES updates.
As of about 10:30 a.m., there is no direct impact of oil to nearby homeowners or storm drains, and no evacuations have been ordered, said Sumagaysay, who was near the ocean. When asked, she said she could not smell odors but added that could change as the sun comes out.
Brian Segee, senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Center, visited the spill site Thursday morning. “So far estimates for the size of this spill have been all over the map,” he said in a statement. “It is important to remember that with last year’s Plains All American Oil Spill at Refugio Beach, the initial industry estimates were orders of magnitude below reality. But we are still very early in understanding the scope of this spill and the challenges that yet another major oil spill will deliver to our region. Regardless of the size, any amount of spilled oil is inexcusable and destructive.”
Sumagaysay added officials were “ready to respond especially on the heels on recent oil spills.” Last May, an estimated 140,000 gallons of oil leaked from a pipeline owned by Plains near Refugio State Beach — with 21,000 washing into the ocean.