Firm: California spill went undetected due to pipeline work

VENTURA, Calif. – The operator of a pipeline that spewed tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a Southern California ravine says it didn’t detect the leak because the line was down for maintenance.

Crimson Pipeline says its command centre remotely monitors the pipeline for any drop in pressure, which would signal a spill.

It said the line in Ventura was emptied earlier this week and re-filled with oil that was lower than the usual amount. Company spokeswoman Kendall Klingler said Friday there wasn’t enough oil in the line to detect a drop in pressure.

Firefighters prevented the spill on Thursday from reaching the ocean by building a dam. The cause is under investigation.

The spill was reported by a resident who smelled an odour coming from his backyard in Ventura. He called Crimson, which shut down the line.