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Pipe burst spills oil in front of Buena Vista Elementary School

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says cleanup efforts are ongoing
Posted at 9:29 AM, Feb 08, 2024
  • Video shows oil spill cleanup, afterschool pickup, report from initial spill
  • A pipe burst on Monday afternoon in front of Buena Vista Elementary School, spilling oil onto the intersection of Panama Lane and Buena Vista Road.

This is where parents usually line up to pick up their kids from Buena Vista Elementary School, but that routine was disrupted on Monday by these ongoing cleanup efforts.
For students and administrators, it was another day at school on Monday.

“That was right around the time that we were releasing students,” Chantel Stansberry, the public information officer with the Panama-Buena Vista School District said.

As many parents prepared to pick up their kids from school, administrators told them there would be a change to their usual pick-up location

“We were notified by local authorities that there was crude oil release outside of our Buena Vista elementary schools.”

According to the initial report from Kern Energy on Monday afternoon, crude oil began releasing from an underground pipe that runs from Bakersfield to a refinery.

The most recent update says up to 10 barrels of oil may have been released in the spill, but that total has not been confirmed.

“We are resuming classes as scheduled," Stansberry said. "We’re just asking parents to give a little more time as they are doing pick up and drop off.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has taken the lead on this case, and Mary Fricke with the department says they’re still investigating who controls the oil and what caused the spill.

This isn’t the only spill the Office of Spill Prevention and Response has dealt with across California.

In 2023, Fricke says the office responded to about 300 incidents in person due to severity or threats to water and wildlife.

It’s been a concern to some parents and environmentalists.

"Spills like this one are the most blatant, obvious reminders that fossil fuels are often one accident away from wreaking havoc on our soil, water, and environment. These risks only become more serious when our oil and gas pipelines are near homes and schools," Mercedes Macias, a representative for Sierra Club, an environmentalist organization, said in a statement.

“There were just some concerns of if there needed to be any students pulled from class or kept home from school in response to the oil spill, but as I mentioned, we’ve been assured by the authorities that we don’t have any public health risk issues.

Stansberry says the district understands the concerns some parents may have about the incident, but adds they haven’t seen a significant drop in attendance following the initial spill on Monday.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s no estimated time when the cleanup will be completed.

“Being safe and taken care of is always going to be our primary focus so those have been the questions we’ve been asking as we are in communication with both local and state authorities,” she added.

Stansberry says parents should check Parent Square for updates about the cleanup for more about how it will impact your student.

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