Relaymedia

Santa Barbara Oil Spill: Up to Five Times More Oil Than Estimated Spilled across 9 Miles of California Coastline

( [email protected] ) May 20, 2015 09:47 PM EDT
The cleanup from the oil spill off a Santa Barbara County beach continued on Thursday as its damage spread to nine miles of pristine California coastline. Federal investigators also continued their investigation on the factors behind the pipe’s leakage near Refugio State Beach.

The cleanup from the oil spill off a Santa Barbara County beach continued on Thursday as its damage spread to nine miles of pristine California coastline. Federal investigators also continued their investigation on the factors behind the pipe's leakage near Refugio State Beach.

According to Giana Magnoli of Noozhawk, authorities have estimated the spill around 2,500 barrels, or 105,000 gallons of crude oil. Capt. Jennifer Williams of the U.S. Coast Guard noted that two large oil slicks stretched along the coast and into the Pacific Ocean.

"Oil in the ocean spread miles away from the source site, a ruptured 24-inch underground pipe belonging to Plains All American Pipeline that sent oil pouring through a culvert, under Highway 101 and the railroad tracks to the shoreline," Magnoli wrote.

Magnoli reported on how resources from the local, state and federal levels of government were responding to the cleanup and wildlife rescue.

"Santa Barbara County's Emergency Operations Center was activated, and the Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency are heading the incident command post at Refugio State Beach," Magnoli wrote. "Cleanup crews and investigators were at the scene, and authorities were asking people to stay away from the nearby beach, which is closed and considered a hazardous-materials area."

According to Noozhawk, California State Parks closed El Capitan State Beach and campground Wednesday afternoon; those beaches have been closed down for an indefinite period of time. The closure is being enforced by deputies representing the Santa Barbara County Sheriff.

Christopher Weber and Brian Melley of the Associated Press reported that workers in protective suits began cleanup efforts. In addition, federal regulators from the Department of Transportation looked at the pipe's condition and attempted to determine what regulations may have been violated in the process; the agency oversees oil pipeline safety.

"The 24-inch pipe built in 1991 had no previous problems and was thoroughly inspected in 2012, according to Plains All American Pipeline LP, which owns the pipe," Weber and Melley wrote. "The pipe underwent similar tests about two weeks ago, though the results had not been analyzed yet."

Darren Palmer, a district manager for Plains All American Pipeline LP, told the Associated Press that the company would be "taking responsibility and paying for everything associated with this spill." However, no cost estimates or timetable for the cleanup has been provided yet.

"It smells like what they use to pave the roads," Fan Yang of Indianapolis said as she looked for cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara. "I'm sad for the birds - if they lose their habitat."

According to the Associated Press, environmental groups used the oil spill to point out the country's reliance on fossil fuels. The Associated Press also noted that the American environmental movement began off Santa Barbara's coast back in 1969, where a much larger oil spill occurred.

"Big Oil comes with big risks - from drilling to delivery," Bob Deans, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. "Santa Barbara learned that lesson over 40 years ago when offshore drilling led to disaster."

Magnoli pointed out that no volunteers have been requested to help in the cleanup efforts for now. However, anyone who is interested can find more information at California Volunteers.

Doreen Farr, a county supervisor, summed up the events surrounding the oil slick off Santa Barbara's waters.

"This is more than just an inconvenience," Farr said. "This is a disaster."


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