Overturned Oil Tanker Leaks Crude Oil in Cuyama River

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Photos: Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Update by edhat staff

As of 3:00 p.m., Santa Barbara Count firefighters were able to halt the forward progession of the oil spill toward the Twitchell Dam.

Crews remain on scene to remove the oil from the Cuyama River.

As of 5:00 p.m., crews completed the second underflow dam providing for a secondary containment for the oil spill. Santa Barbara County Fire construction crews and a hazmat team worked hard to complete the containment measures before Sunday’s rain event. 


By edhat staff

Local agencies are responding to an overturned oil tanker in the Cuyama river off Highway 166 carrying 6,000 gallons of crude oil.

At 6:04 a.m., Santa Barbara County firefighters responded to a vehicle collision involving a semi-truck carrying crude oil. The accident took place on Highway 166, twenty-miles from Highway 101, where the oil tanker rolled off the roadway and landed in the Cuyama River.

The driver was uninjured but the tanker has been slowly leaking oil into the river as it moves towards the Twitchell Dam. 

An oil spill containment trailer, hazmat teams, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, and the Department of Fish & Wildlife are on scene assisting with mitigation and cleanup. 

As of noon, crews deployed three lines of defense to clean up the oil spill. The first line is a yellow boom just below the spill. The second line is a dirt berm to allow the flow of water to continue, and the third line are 2 x 2 sized absorbent pads to collect the oil. 

Rain is expected for Sunday and crews are working to mitigate the spill as much as possible before the rain comes in.

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Z Mar 21, 2020 04:40 PM
Overturned Oil Tanker Leaks Crude Oil in Cuyama River

Looks like it's still profitable to truck heavy, high-sulfur oil from remote fields to refiners. Oil prices are down, insurance costs are known in advance, and clean-up costs a fortune, but still they can make a profit relying on trucks for transport. California counties need to charge extraction fees if only to take care of the environmental costs that aren't reimbursed by insurance.

a-1594193980 Mar 21, 2020 05:08 PM
Overturned Oil Tanker Leaks Crude Oil in Cuyama River

You might be right with all of that, but for some reason these oil companies find buyers willing and able to pay up for their high-sulfur oil from remote fields. Supply and demand at work? Go figure.

a-1594193980 Mar 21, 2020 03:52 PM
Overturned Oil Tanker Leaks Crude Oil in Cuyama River

I would love to see this mess cleaned up with equipment/machinery and support vehicles that are powered by renewable energy sources/methods. Maybe put a sail boat on the river and suck up all of that oil with an SPOEU (solar-powered oil-extraction unit) when they get around to inventing it. Then we'd check in a few years to see how things are going with the cleanup.

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