Update: Flash flooding responsible for oil spill near Cuyama

Jul 20, 2015

San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Services now says an intense thunderstorm was responsible for Monday's oil spill near Cuyama off Highway 166. 

A spill was discovered on the Russell Lease near Cuyama in San Luis Obispo County on Monday morning. Officials put the spill at an estimated five barrels.
Credit Santa Barbara County Fire

"The spill was caused by storm water runoff that produced a flash flood and uncovered a 4-inch underground oil pipeline, which was then bent by the force of the water and subsequently fractured and released an estimated 2 to 5 barrels of oil," said Environmental Health Specialist Scott Milner. "An alarm then went off which alerted the operators to shut the system down."

The operators then began to berm the spill with dirt and use absorbent socks, according to Milner.

Santa Barbara County Fire was first alerted to the spill on the Russell Ranch Oil Field around 7:00 a.m. Monday.

The spill was a mixture of oil, gas and water.

"The majority of the oil was captured before it reached the creek, which was about 150 yards away," said Milner.