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Updates: Oil spill in Ventura County; assessment of damage underway

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An oil spill that may have released more than 29,000 gallons of crude into a grassy canyon in Ventura County did not reach the beach or trigger evacuations, Ventura County fire officials say.

  • Assessments of damage and air quality are underway.
  • The pipeline in question has a history of spills.
  • “The pump has been shut down,” a firefighter said. “There’s no way it can get to the ocean.”

Air quality and damage assessment underway at Ventura spill site

Emergency responders are working to determine whether oil from a spill Thursday was flowing to any other areas, officials said.

The pipeline leak was spotted about 5:30 a.m. in a gorge called Prince Barranca and was estimated to involve up to 700 barrels of crude, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery said. The leak originated in a pump station, which has been shut down.

“Any flow at this point is residual,” city officials said in a statement.

The cause of the leak is under investigation and has not been determined.

The oil is from Ventura County, and the 10-inch pipeline delivers crude to the Los Angeles Basin, including Exxon Mobil’s Torrance refinery.

Authorities issued the following message to area residents about the spill:

“The oil spill in Hall Canyon is currently contained in the Prince Barranca. Crews will be working around the area and residents are advised to avoid contact with the oil and take safeguards to protect pets and property. Residents may smell strong odors and at this time air quality monitoring is taking place.”

Veronica Rocha

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Watch: News conference regarding oil spill

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Crimson Pipeline has history of spills in Ventura County

Crimson Pipeline has had 10 spills involving corrosion, equipment failure and excavation damage since 2006, resulting in more than $5.8 million in property damage, federal records show.

In total, approximately 7,453 barrels of hazardous liquid has been spilled since 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

On Thursday, 700 barrels of crude oil leaked from pipeline V-10 about 5:30 a.m. in a gorge called Prince Barranca, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

Up to 29,400 gallons of crude may have been released. The leak was stopped within a couple of hours.

The Colorado-based company has 661 miles of pipeline running through California.

The largest leak in Ventura was in 2008, according to federal records. In that spill, the company cited material, welding and equipment failure as a cause for the leak.

A ruptured or leaking seal/pump packing spilled 6,679 barrels, resulting in a loss of $654,300.

The costliest incident in the past 10 years for the company was in Los Angeles in September 2013, when electrical arching from equipment caused more than $3.1 million in property damage, federal records indicate.

On Dec. 8, a leak released 211 barrels in Somis after an error during an excavation operation. The incident caused $525,700 in property damage.

On Sept. 21, corrosion on a pipeline in Camarillo leaked 24 barrels, causing more than $41,000 in property damage.

The damage from Thursday’s spill has yet to be determined.

Corrosion was the cause for four spills in California since 2006, federal records show. Five spills — one of which involved corrosion — have occurred in Ventura County during the same period.

There have been no federal inspections of Crimson pipelines since at least 2006, federal records show.

Veronica Rocha and Joseph Serna

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Firefighters monitor air quality following crude vapor concerns in Ventura oil spill

Firefighters are monitoring air quality Thursday following concerns of crude vapors surrounding a leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil in Ventura County.

Capt. Mike Lindbery, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department, said it was fortunate that the oil did not get into the storm drain system, which could spread the vapors from the crude more widely, especially if temperatures warmed up.

Still, there is some concern about crude vapors. Residents have been alerted that if they are sensitive to odors, they should get out of the area. No mandatory evacuations have been ordered. Fire officials are monitoring the air quality.

A resident along Grove Place first spotted the oil spill about 5:30 a.m., he said.

The oil flowed into Prince Barranca, and while most barrancas, or gorges, flow directly to the sea, this particular barranca flows into a debris catch basin that typically pools storm water and filters out debris. During storms, the water is then pumped out of the basin and into another area before it is sent out to sea.

In the case of the oil leak, the crude pooled into the basin, and fire officials were able to alert public works officials to shut down the pumps, preventing oil from continuing onward to the ocean.

Vacuum trucks will pump out the oil that has pooled into the barranca, and Lindbery expected there would be a caravan of vacuum trucks, which each hold about 4,000 gallons of oil.

Crude oil has coated rocks and creek beds. Details on the environmental impact were not immediately available.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura County Fire and Ventura City Fire, along with other agencies, have responded to the incident and are coordinating the response from San Buenaventura State Beach, about 1.5 miles from Hall Canyon.

Matt Hamilton

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Scenes from the Ventura oil spill

Crews examined a black pool of water from Thursday morning's oil spill in Ventura.
(Doug Smith/ Los Angeles Times)

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Ventura spill is ‘another grim example’ of need to move pipelines from coast, groups says

Although firefighters stopped a leak from spilling crude oil toward the ocean in Ventura on Thursday, a conservation group says its a reminder of the dangers that come with drilling near the coast, officials said.

Kristen Monsell, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the spill was “another grim example of why we must get pipelines and oil drilling out of California’s vulnerable coastal environment.”

“We’ve got to stop thinking about these oil spills as accidents and start regarding them as completely predictable ecological tragedies that we can prevent with strong action,” she said in a statement.

The leak was spotted about 5:30 a.m. in a pipeline in Hall Canyon and originally estimated to involve up to 5,000 barrels of crude, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery said. But that estimate was later reduced to 700 barrels.

Authorities feared the oil could flow out near the beach at Sanjon Road and the 101 Freeway, Lindbery said. But the leak was farther inland at Hall Canyon on the other side of the beachside community and didn’t reach a second pipeline that would have pumped it out toward the ocean.

The leak was stopped before it reached the ocean, Lindbery said.

Veronica Rocha

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Crews stopped oil leak before it hit the ocean

Ventura County firefighters have stopped hundreds of gallons of crude oil from flowing toward the ocean after a leak at Prince Barranca valley, officials said.

The leak was spotted about 5:30 a.m. in a pipeline in Hall Canyon and originally estimated to involve up to 5,000 barrels of crude, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery said. But that estimate was later reduced to 700 barrels.

There are 42 gallons per barrel, meaning up to 29,400 gallons of crude may have been released.

Authorities feared the oil could flow out near the beach at San Jon Road and the 101 Freeway, Lindbery said. But the leak was farther inland at Hall Canyon on the other side of the beachside community and didn’t reach a second pipeline that would have pumped it out toward the ocean, said Ventura County firefighter Marisol Rodriguez.

The spill went about a half-mile down Hall Canyon in the barranca, she said.

“The pump has been shut down. There’s no way it can get to the ocean,” Rodriguez said. “They’re in cleanup mode.

Amy Norris, a spokeswoman with the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response, said investigators were on their way to the site to assess the spill.

— Joseph Serna

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Ventura County fire now says spill involves 700 barrels, not 5,000

The Ventura County Fire Department now says a leak spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil at Prince Barranca in Ventura involved up to 700 barrels, not 5,000.

The leak was spotted about 5:30 a.m. in a pipeline in Hall Canyon, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery said. Initially, fire officials said the leak involved up to 5,000 barrels.

There are 42 gallons per barrel, meaning up to 29,400 gallons of crude may have been released. Lindbery said the leak flowed about a half-mile down the barranca in midtown Ventura.

Veronica Rocha

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Where exactly is the Ventura County oil spill located?

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Fire officials, hazmat team on scene of oil spill

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