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'Looks looks like things are subsiding,' Governor Newsom tours oil spill in Kern County

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 21:11:04-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom spent Wednesday afternoon touring the Cymric Oil Field site, where Chevron officials said more than 900,000 gallons of oil and water flowed to the surface following a spill that took place in May.

“I saw progress in the right direction I saw the mitigation now that clean up is beginning it looks like things are subsiding,” Govenor Gavin Newsom said.

On May 10, is when one of the largest oil spills began about 35 miles west of Bakersfield near the town of McKittrick.

The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) said a total of five different seapage events have taken place in the Cymric Oil Field area since May, but officials couldn’t provide any other historic information pertaining to the area.

“We have fish and wildlife people monitoring and to make sure no birds are impacted or any other animals. We’ve got the appropriate resources,” Newsom said.

After visiting the site Newsom said he sees no concern over local drinking water contamination.

“I had my environmental experts..we had the state folks not just listening to industry saying that they see no concern whatsoever as it relates to the aquifer or this contamination impacting any of the surrounding communities,” Newsom said.

McKittrick residents said they are also remaining calm through the situation.

“Everything gets filtered, if I’m worried about that I would be worried about the chemical that’s in our drinking water now,” McKittrick resident Darrel Smith said.

Newsom also gained further insight into the cause of the spill during his visit.

"It seems to have been an old oil well that had been shut down in 2004 so there was some issue related to that,” Newsom said.

Newsom provided details into why many people did not know about the spill.

“There was early notification through DOGGR on the May incident, but the May incident was just over 100 barrals so it didn’t get a lot of attention . Yes it was made aware in real time they actually publicized it admittedly on their website though…goodluck,” Newsom added.

DOGGR officials said the mixture is about one-third oil and two-thirds water.

Crews spent Wednesday afternoon cleaning up one half of the site by using dirt to soak up the fluid in order to remove it from the area.

DOGGR officials said the clean up timeline all depends on when they deem the area safe for entry and full cleanup.

Officials said the cause of the spill is still being investigated and DOGGR has issued an order to Chevron requiring them to provide more information to verify the cause.

Newsom said that he also had a long conversation with Chevron during his visit, he said they recognize the seriousness of the problem and realize they have to get this area cleaned up.

We reached out to Chevron and the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response and did not hear back.