The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services reported that Greka Energy spilled 20 barrels of crude oil at 8:50 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.

The spill occurred at 6151 Dominion Road, Cat Canyon, an unincorporated area of northern Santa Barbara County near Los Alamos. Firefighters, workers from the Santa Barbara Hazardous Materials Unit, and representatives from the Dept. of Fish and Game responded to the spill in addition to workers from Greka Energy, which owns the equipment. The oil was cleaned using manual labor, a backhoe and a vehicle equipped with a vacuum attachment designed especially for cleaning such spills.

Elsa Arndt, a planner at the Office of Emergency Services, said the spill was caused by a malfunctioning level alarm, an instrument that alerts supervisors when the level of oil in a pipe is too high or too low.

“There was some overflow, but as far as spills go, 20 barrels is not all that much. It’s certainly more than a two- or three- barrel spill which would be the most common amount that gets spilled, but in respect to some spills where hundreds of barrels of oil spill, it’s really not that much,” said Arndt. “It’s actually an average amount that was spilled.”

Arndt also said the oil spilled into a dry creek bed.

“The creek bed was dry, so that was fortunate,” Arndt said. “As far as where the spill happened, it could have been worse, and it’s good it was contained.”

Arndt said a standard-sized oil barrel contains 45 gallons. She also said Greka Energy was responsible for a five-barrel spill that occurred on Sept. 16 on Black Road in Santa Maria. The cause of that spill was a corroded pipe.

Greka Energy, which describes itself on its website as “a vertically integrated energy company” with offices in New York, Beijing, Jakarta, Bogota and Santa Maria, is a crude oil producer involved in the Californian asphalt market. A representative from Greka was not available to comment for this story.