A tanker carrying some 6,000 gallons of crude oil crashed in Santa Barbara County earlier this month, spilling an estimated 4,500 gallons of the load into the Cuyama River. Crews from the state, local, and national agencies continue to work on cleanup of the spill.
The Santa Maria Times reports that the crash happened along U.S. Highway 166 on Saturday, March 21st. The California Highway Patrol said that the collision occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m, but the crash was not reported until around 6:00 a.m. The driver of a tanker truck had been traveling westbound when the trailer started swaying, causing him to lose control of his rig. The truck trailer became disconnected from the cab, and the tanker trailer rolled down an embankment and into the river.
Emergency crews from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, which included three fire engines and a hazmat unit, responded to the crash. A spokesperson for the SBCFD told reporters that the driver was uninjured in the accident.
To prevent the crude oil from reaching the Twitchell Dam area, firefighters deployed several lines of defense against the spill. These measures included a yellow oil boom, several 2-foot square oil absorption pads, and a dirt berm equipped with pipes that allow the water to continue to flow but keeps the oil from progressing further downriver.
A later report appearing on the Noozhawk website indicates that a team from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network is trying to save oil-covered wildlife in the area that has been affected by the spill.
The oil company that owned the rig was also at the site to pump the remaining oil from the rig and help clean up the spill.
The incident is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.