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Santa Clara Wastewater Treatment Plant Emergency Response

Site Contact:
Martin Powell


Site Location:
815 Mission Rock Road
Santa Paula, CA 93060

EPA is using the site name Santa Clara Water Company Emergency Response. Incident Command is referring to the site as Mission Incident VNC 14-0075269.

The incident began at approximately 3:30 am on November 18,when a vacuum truck exploded at a commercial wastewater treatment facility. The facility is located at 815 Mission Rock Road in Santa Paula, CA . An Incident Command Post was established at 895 Faulkner Road in Santa Paula. Reports vary as to what activities lead up to the explosion (one suggested that the operator had begun aggregating wastes from totes at the facility into the vac truck). A fire ensued, eventually involving several waste streams, including oxidizers, acids, polymerizing agents, and possibly chlorine tablets. It is not clear what was in the vac truck when the explosion began. The secondary containment filled with a watery sludge from the mixed chemicals.

Ventura County Fire and Police implemented a one mile evacuation zone. Numerous residents and pets and livestock were evacuated. Many additional people sheltered in place. A large smoke plume was generated. This plume exceeded three miles in length. The site is surrounded by agricultural lands, and there is concern that crops may have been affected by the smoke plume.

Almost immediately, fine crystals formed on the drying surfaces from the chemical mix; these were found to be shock sensitive, and the VCFD experienced several incidents of sparks and small explosions from walking on the crystals. The VCFD abandoned two firefighting rigs in the facility due to contamination with shock-sensitive organic peroxide. A significant portion of the facility is covered by these fine white crystals and it is not clear how far offsite these crystals may extend.