California’s biggest oil spill in decades brings more defiance than anger from locals

McKITTRICK, Calif. — Near the jagged western edge of Kern County, where the Temblor Range gives way to a landscape of steam pipes, fuel lines and bobbing pump jacks, there’s a definite mood in this dusty little oil town: Defiance.

Hardly a day goes by without reports of the growing oil leak in nearby Cymric oil field. So far, more than 900,000 gallons of oil and brine have oozed from a Chevron Corp. well and filled a dry creek, creating a hazardous black lagoon.

The residents of McKittrick, population 145, understand why people are upset by the images. Also, there’s no avoiding the worry that prolonged exposure to crude oil might one day trigger health issues.