Last night, as a crew of more than 80 people worked to clean up a recent 210-gallon oil spill at Tar Creek, a second 20-gallon leak was detected in the same pipeline running through the Los Padres National Forest.
The cleanup crew had been working since last week to clean up a Jan. 30 oil spill when it discovered another hazardous leak a few miles away from the site of the first incident. According to a report from the USDA Forest Service, the crew has managed to successfully avoid a contamination of the nearby Sespe Condor Sanctuary, and officials have said no endangered species are being affected by either spill.
In hopes of ensuring the safety of other species inhabiting the contaminated areas, workers have been using vacuum trucks, absorbent pads and flotation pads to successfully contain the latest leak, the report said.
“They have been making good progress and have it contained a mile ahead of where the condors are,” said Mark Hall, a spokesman for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “The crew is making good progress.”
Despite their success in protecting the animal populations, officials are still investigating the causes of the two incidents.
Hall said officials are pointing to the impact of fluctuating temperatures on pipelines in the area as the cause of both of the recent spills.
“There was significant expanding and contracting [because of the temperature drop] which cracked the pipe,” Hall said.
However, reports that the pipe ruptures were due to cold weather are still awaiting confirmation by a California state agency.
John Dearing, spokesperson for the California Bureau of Land Management, said that officials from Occidental Oil – the company that owns the leaky pipeline – have made plans to send the pipe back to its original manufacturer in order to precisely verify the cause of the leaks.
“[The California Bureau of Land Management] takes it very seriously and so does the company,” Dearing said.
Kathy Good, spokesperson for the USDA Forest Service, said workers have found a songbird, a snake, insects and several frogs covered in oil.
Vintage Production California LLC, the facility operator that reported the leak, initially hired 40 workers to clean up the area, but on Tuesday they brought in an additional 40 workers to speed up the process before this week’s predicted rainfall.
“The crew is concentrating on detailed work such as wiping the oil off of rocks,” Good said.
According to the USDA Forest Service report, there will be meetings with Vintage following the cleanup effort in order to develop procedures to prevent another spill from occurring.
“They are still working, but no date has been projected about the finish of the cleanup effort,” Good said.