California fears for wildlife as 21,000 gallons of crude oil spills
- Pipeline dumped in culvert under freeway and spill reaches for miles and goes 50 yards out on Refugio State Beach
- Santa Barbara County health officials shut down the beach as spill comes days before Memorial Day weekend
- The busted pipeline is operated by Plains All American Pipeline LP and the cause of the rupture is still unknown
- The Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Santa Barbara County are assisting on the clean-up
An estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil dumped into the ocean from a broken pipeline has created a spill stretching about four miles off the central California coast along a public beach on Tuesday.
The pipeline, which runs parallel to Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, left a slick extending for miles along Refugio State Beach extending about 50 yards into the water, said Coast Guard Officer Andrea Anderson.
The 24-inch pipeline has been shut off and the cause of the rupture had not been determined, Anderson said.
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An estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil dumped into the ocean from a broken pipeline Tuesday in California
The Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Wildlife and SantaBarbara County were assisting on the clean-up
Officials walked along an the oil-covered beach north of Goleta, California
The broken pipe created a spill stretching about four miles off the central coast along a public beach
Oil covered a local’s boot at the beach. There was no immediate estimate of how long the cleanup might take
Locals in rubber boots stand among the oil as non-profit organisations began the clean-up last night following the spill
The pipe is operated by Plains All American Pipeline LP and the company did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Santa Barbara County health officials have shut down Refugio, the central site of the spill, though many had abandoned the site already because of the foul smell.
That smell brought county firefighters to the beach earlier in the day to discover the spill.
‘They found about a half-mile slick of dark, black crude oil in the ocean,’ fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.
They traced the oil to the onshore pipeline that spilled into a culvert that ran under the freeway and through a storm drain into the ocean.
Fluorescent steaks in the Pacific ocean show where the oil has leaked into the water along Refugio beach in central California
As the sun sets over the Pacific ocean streaks of oil can be seen stretching out into the ocean as workers try to contain the spill
Around 21,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Pacific ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, yesterday after a pipe burst
Santa Barbara County health officials shut down Refugio, the central site of the spill, though many left before
Oil was traced to a pipeline that spilled into a culvert that runs under the freeway and through a storm drain
The thick oil slick coats rocks along Refugio Beach, near Santa Barbara, after around 21,000 gallons spilled into the ocean yesterday
Pebble-sized amounts of tar seepage from the multiple off-shore rigs is common along the beaches in Santa Barbara, but spills on this sale are very uncommon (pictured, oil from the recent spill coasts rocks along Refugio beach)
The scenic stretch of coastline about 20 miles northwest of the pricey real estate of Santa Barbara is dotted with state-run beaches that are popular with campers, and the spill comes just a few days before the Memorial Day weekend and subsequent summer camping season begin.
The stretch of coastline is also home to many oil rigs and drilling operations, and small amounts of tar and seepage show up on beaches, but in much smaller amounts.
Richard Abrams, emergency manager for Santa Barbara County, said the Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Santa Barbara County were assisting on the clean-up.
‘We haven’t seen any reports of impacts on wildlife but it is in the water so it is impacting the environment,’ Abrams said.
Workers cleaned up the oil leak that caused the large slick in the Pacific Ocean along the coast of Refugio State Beach
The smell of oil brought county firefighters to the beach earlier in the day to discover the spill
Broken pipeline spilled into a culvert that runs under the US 101 freeway and workers began to patch it back up after the spill was found
Boats from the nonprofit collective Clean Seas were being used in the cleanup.
There was no immediate estimate of how long the cleanup might take.
The Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center said such a spill was inevitable with coastal oil development, but still unwelcome.
‘To see this level of spill into such a sensitive and treasured environment is devastating to watch,’ the EDC said in a statement.
The group expressed special worry for the many species of whale that migrate through the area.
The Environmental Defense Center said such a spill was inevitable with coastal oil development
A trawler lays yellow booms to contain the oil slick in the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara
Workers from non-profit organisation Clean Seas drops a yellow boom into the water to prevent the oil slick from spreading
A large offshore drilling operation means that there are often pebble-size pieces of tar which wash up along Santa Barbara’s beaches, but spillages on this scale are a rare occurrence
The 24-inch pipeline has been shut off and the cause of the rupture had not been determined
Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips said, ‘Every time we hear about an oil spill, we hold our breath and hope it won’t get worse.’
She said in her statement that the spill was especially troubling because no one caught it ‘until several barrels of oil had already tumbled into the ocean.’
The spill came on the same stretch of coast as a 1969 oil spill that was the largest ever in US waters at the time and is credited for giving rise to the modern American environmental movement.
Several hundred thousand gallons from a blowout on an oil platform were spilled, and thousands of sea birds were killed along with many marine mammals.
It was later surpassed in size by 1989’s Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska and the 2010 Gulf oil spill off Louisiana.
Several hundred thousand gallons from a blowout on an oil platform were spilled, and thousands of sea birds were killed in same area in 1963
As the sun sets a thick layer of black oil is pictured coating Refugio beach after a pipe owned by Plains All American Pipeline LP burst
The on-shore pipeline leaked oil into a storm drain, which then ran under the 101 freeway and into the ocean near Santa Barbara
The spill came on the same stretch of coast as a 1969 oil spill that was the largest ever in US waters at the time
The scenic stretch of coastline is about 20 miles northwest of the pricey real estate of Santa Barbara
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