Santa Barbara County partnered with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response to clean up oil at Toro Canyon Creek northeast of Summerland.
Work began July 6 as crews stopped a leak in a pipe connected to an oil and water separator facility. The leak was contained by mid-July.
Then the team focused efforts on the estimated 420 to 630 gallons of oil that traveled around 300 yards, according to a news release. The team used absorbents to remove oil from the channel, pressure washed surfaces, vacuumed and disposed of oiled vegetation.
Cleanup wrapped up Aug. 27. Monitoring and other protective measures will be executed over three months.
The county plans to remediate other portions of the creek bed and bank with help from the Lake and Streambed Alteration Program and other state agencies.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network rescued 92 oiled frogs, and the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network cleaned and rehabilitated the frogs before returning them to a clean creek.
A total of 17 small birds, 13 bats and a squirrel died from the leak.
The oil naturally seeps in a well three miles north of Highway 101 that the Occidental Mining and Petroleum Co. constructed in 1882.
The Environmental Protection Agency built the oil and water separator facility at the well in the 1990s to prevent seepage, and the county has monitored the facility since 2009.
— Annelise Hanshaw