Pipeline that spilled 30,000 gallons of crude oil in Ventura reopens

-Ventura County Star

Pipeline that spilled 30,000 gallons of crude oil in Ventura reopens

FILE PHOTO Crude oil flows down a Ventura hillside after a pipeline failed June 23. Nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil leaked in the spill.

FILE PHOTO Crude oil flows down a Ventura hillside after a pipeline failed June 23. Nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil leaked in the spill.

By Jean Cowden Moore, jean.moore@vcstar.com

A pipeline that leaked nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil in Ventura has reopened, just eight days after an early-morning spill on June 23.

The pipeline reopened Thursday night after the state fire marshal certified that it was safe, said Tim Gallagher, spokesman for the pipeline’s owner, Crimson Pipeline. The certification came after the fire marshal’s office inspected the pipeline this week, Gallagher said.

But Mark Watkins, Ventura city manager, said he was frustrated that residents weren’t notified before the pipeline reopened, especially after a meeting Thursday night when they questioned company, local and state officials about the spill. Residents should be told what caused the spill, how long the cleanup will take, and what Crimson is doing so it doesn’t happen again, Watkins said.

“It’s very frustrating to find out they just put it back into service, and the community wasn’t notified,” he said. “We expect a higher level of communication in the future.”

Residents had not been informed of the reopening by 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The agencies involved planned to notify people by email and possibly by going door to door, starting Friday evening, Gallagher said.

State regulations required that Crimson start putting crude oil back into the pipeline as soon as it was certified safe, Gallagher said.

Before the fire marshal’s office inspected the pipeline, workers cleared out any remaining crude oil, using liquid nitrogen, Gallagher said. Then they did the inspection.

The inspection satisfied the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said spokeswoman Amy Norris.

“If the fire marshal has certified that it’s safe, then we’re completely comfortable,” Norris said.

The spill, which started just northeast of Ventura High School, leaked crude oil into a nearby gorge but it did not reach the beach. The oil flowed for about half a mile down the Prince Barranca and Hall Canyon before it was stopped.

The cause of the spill, which started at a valve in the pipeline, is still under investigation. The valve had been replaced the day before the incident.

Crimson has had 10 spills in the past decade, causing about $5.9 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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