Cleanup of Strawberry Creek oil spill ends

Over a month after an oil spill at UC Berkeley leaked into Strawberry Creek and eventually into the San Francisco Bay, cleanup efforts officially ended Tuesday after over half of the fuel was recovered.

Nearly 1,000 gallons of fuel — about 60 percent of the spill — have been recovered. In mid-December, 1,650 total gallons of oil overflowed from a tank in the basement of Stanley Hall, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

Tim Pine, environmental protection specialist with the campus Office of Environmental Health and Safety who oversees the creek, said representatives from the organizations involved in the cleanup and response efforts walked the creek on Tuesday and had to “literally turn over stones” in search of diesel residue.

“You’d be hard-pressed to tell there was ever fuel covering the bank six weeks ago,” he said. “The last series of storms two weeks ago was incredibly effective in mobilizing and dispersing of any leftover residue.”

Cleanup efforts had significantly tapered off since the spill was first discovered and contained. Following the organizations’ consensus to officially conclude cleanup efforts on Tuesday, the final spill booms with absorbent pads that were placed to trap remaining diesel were removed, said office director Mark Freiberg.

Pine said the creek has fully recovered from the spill, adding that because of their rapid life cycle, water striders — insects on the surface of the water which were affected by the oil — are already back. Furthermore, Pine said there is no evidence of any dead fish or oiled animals.

“This was thankfully very minor in terms of habitat effect,” he said. “Anything less than 5,000 gallons is considered a small spill.”