SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — A tanker truck overturned down an embankment Saturday, spilling more than 6,600 gallons of crude oil into a river that flows into a dam and reservoir near the city of Santa Maria, authorities said.
The driver was not injured and the cause of the single-vehicle crash on State Route 166 was under investigation, said Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Nikki Stevens.
He said crews were racing to stop the oil that spilled into the Cuyama River from reaching Twitchell Dam and reservoir, which provides flood control and water conservation to the region on the Central Coast. The spill stretching about 2 miles long was more than 10 miles away from the dam.
They constructed dirt berms and threw a boom — essentially a floating fence — into the water to contain the oil. Additionally, Stevens said, they placed large pipes under the berms to keep uncontaminated water flowing to the dam while they use pads to absorb the floating oil slick.
Time was of the essence because rain was in the forecast for Sunday.
“The dirt berm is not going to withstand running water,” Stevens said. “They’re working as aggressively as they can to clean this up.”
Stevens said the cleanup will take several days and water quality tests will be conducted.