Chevron crews have begun to clean up a massive and ongoing oil spill in California after nearly 800,000 gallons of oil and water were dumped into a canyon near Bakersfield in May.
A report by Chevron reveals that the oil and water had leaked from the ground where a steam injection is used for extracting oil. The area is a big Cymric Oil Field located around 35 miles to the west of Bakersfield.
The steam is used to soften thick crude oil and makes it able to flow more efficiently. It is a different process than fracking which breaks up layers of rock under the ground.
Chevron has not yet reported what caused the spill but officials say it is not near any waterway and has not significantly affected wildlife. Around 70 percent of the fluid is water, meaning that around 240,000 gallons of oil were spilling out.
California issued Chevron a notice of violation and ordered it to halt all steam injections in a 600 foot radius around the area where the seep occurred. Chevron had increased its oil well production in the area. The intentions of these actions are to relieve the pressure underground that may be forcing the water and oil mixture up to the surface.
Spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua told The Associated Press on Friday that the latest flow has stopped and officials have now begun the process of cleaning up the affected areas.
Environmental groups said the Chevron spill is another sign of weakened regulations under an embattled California agency. Gov. Gavin Newsom this week fired the head of the state’s oil and gas division over a recent increase in hydraulic fracturing permits and amid a conflict-of-interest investigation of other division employees.
Chevron will pay for the cleanup while California state officials will oversee the process.
Earlier this year, Plains All American Pipeline was fined almost $3.35 million by a judge after it caused what is known as California’s worst coastal spill in the last 25 years. In 2015 a deteriorating pipeline spilled 140,000 gallons of crude oil into Santa Barbara County’s Refugio State Beach which tarred up popular beach going spots for miles, harmed fishing, tourism, and killed wildlife populations.
Back in 2007 at the San Francisco Bay, Cosco Busan, a container ship, leaked out almost 54,000 gallons of heavy oil fuels. This was the result of the ship hitting the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during a time when thee was thick fog in the area.
In 1969 California’s worst spill happened in Santa Barbara when more than 80,000 barrels of crude oil leaked into the Santa Barbara Channel. A barrel contains 42 gallons, which means at least 3 million gallons of crude oil were leaked.
Steve Gonzalez who is a spokesman for the California Department of Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response said this latest spill by Chevron had minimal impact on wildlife and birds in the area. According to Chevron, the spill ran into a dried up stream-bed, with Gonzalez noting that it isn’t likely to rain anytime in the near future.