Santa Paula Times

Tank truck driver killed:
Over 4,000 gallons
of crude oil spilled

March 03, 2000
Santa Paula High School
Santa Paula Creek became the scene of a massive hazardous material cleanup effort Monday after a fatal tanker truck accident that occurred at about 7:30 a.m. inside Steckel Park and just off Highway 150. Details were scarce at press time Monday, but according to Joe Luna of the Ventura County Fire Department, a double tanker truck was navigating a steep grade and sharp turn near Santa Paula Creek when the truck tumbled over, killing the driver instantly.One of the tankers ruptured, spilling over 4,000 gallons of what is believed crude oil into a culvert that leads to Santa Paula Creek. . .in a matter of minutes the tanker had emptied its full load, but the second container held.The rural area near a motorhome park has become the scene of a massive cleanup effort, including engine companies from Santa Paula and Ventura County; in addition, three special hazardous material teams have been dispatched as well as officials with State Fish & Game.A strong smell of petroleum wafted from the creek, which before recent heavy rains had been dry. Timing for the incident couldn’t be worse with waters now mixing with the oil and carrying it from the creek towards the Santa Clara River.According to Santa Paula Assistant Fire Chief Rick Araiza, an effort will be made to stop and contain the oil at the railroad bridge that crosses over the creek near Highway 126. “It’s already reached the Fish Ladder,” he noted at about 10 a.m. On scene is SPFD Chief Paul Skeels and Public Works Director/City Engineer Norm Wilkinson, he added.
VCFD’s Luna said there was “little hope of saving the driver’s life. . .he was declared dead at the scene from massive trauma. The truck hit hard when it fell and the one tank ruptured completely.”People were warned to stay away from Santa Paula Creek which was running a dark, murky brown substance south to the river.The identify of the truck driver and the company he worked for is being withheld until relatives are notified. The area where the accident occurred is a reportedly a regular route for truckers accessing nearby oil operations.