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Oil From Well Spills Into Wash in Santa Clarita : Environment: An equipment malfunction is blamed for the 120-gallon Placerita Canyon flow.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than 120 gallons of oil from a malfunctioning refinery well spilled into the Placerita Canyon wash in Santa Clarita on Saturday, prompting an extensive cleanup by local and state authorities that is expected to continue today, officials said.

The oil coated about 1 1/2 miles of the wash after rainwater carried it from an Arco well at Placerita Canyon and Sierra Highway, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. David Moore said. Moore said the oil posed no danger to water supplies in the area but was a “big mess.”

He said packing equipment around the well collapsed around 9 a.m. Saturday, apparently from wear and tear.

California Department of Fish and Game officials, as well as workers from the Los Angeles County Fire hazardous materials division used sandbags to keep the oil from flowing farther and special sponges to soak the oil out of the wash, Moore said.

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It was not immediately determined what effect the spill had on wildlife in the area.

Moore said the cleanup took much of the day, and could extend into today if the rains continued.

Arco officials could not be reached for comment.

Some residents in the area expressed concern about the spill, saying there had been previous oil flows in the wash.

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“I’m real scared about the repercussions from this,” said Sherrie Semelsberger, 36, who has lived in the wash area for 11 years.

“There are animals and vegetation that are jeopardized by this kind of thing.”

Charles Tapia, 56, a farmer who lives near the wash, said: “It was so terrible, I couldn’t believe it. It just seemed to go on forever and ever. It just kept coming with the water.”


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