Energy News Today

Oil cleanup underway at Toro Canyon Creek near Summerland

Santa Barbara – South County

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Santa Barbara County and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are working to clean up an oil leak at Toro Canyon Creek near Summerland.

Residents in the area say the oil leak is causing major pollution to the creek which offers fresh water for wildlife. Residents said they’ve been leaving water out for the animals to drink.

Officials say the oil leak is a natural seepage that is emerging from a well that was built back in 1882 by the Occidental Oil Company. The Environmental Protection Agency retrofitted the oil site to prevent seepage in the 1990s by “building an oil and water separator facility at the well.”

The County says it has monitored and maintained that facility since 2009 but in August 2020, a small leak was discovered in a pipe that connects to the facility. The Office of Emergency Services was then contacted.

Santa Barbara County says the pipe appears to have been damaged during the Thomas Fire.

Back in March, the county was able to get funds from a state grant to repair the damaged pipe. The repair work began in July 6. Crews are also doing other work at the creek, including removal of oil and oiled vegetation along with steam cleaning oil from the rocks in the area.

Santa Barbara County is working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) to control the leaking oil.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network has staffed the Wildlife Branch with OSPR.

Officials say there were 17 small birds, 13 bats and one squirrel that were found dead as a result of the leak. The cleanup crew also found 19 oiled frogs and one lizard that were found alive and are now receiving veterinary care.

OSPR is working to confirm the total amount of oil spilled from the pipe but preliminary estimates show around 420 to 630 gallons has reached the creek.

County officials say they are working with federal and state officials on long-term system improvements despite an EPA study from the ’90s that determined it was impractical to cap the well.

California / Community / Environment / Lifestyle / Safety

Read More: Oil cleanup underway at Toro Canyon Creek near Summerland

2021-08-13 19:07:52

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