Crude oil spill contaminates Santa Barbara beach; cleanup efforts underway
On Wednesday, May 20, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County due to the effects of a major crude oil spill that occurred early Tuesday near Refugio State Beach, located 20 miles west of Santa Barbara, California
SACRAMENTO, CA, May 21, 2015 -- On Wednesday, May 20, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County due to the effects of a major crude oil spill that occurred early Tuesday near Refugio State Beach, located 20 miles west of Santa Barbara.
The spill, which has polluted several miles of wildlife-rich beach and ocean along the coastline, emanated from a leak in a 28-year-old, 2-foot-diameter, underground pipeline that's owned by the Santa Maria-based Plains All-American Pipeline company. Initial estimates conclude that up to 105,000 gallons of oil were discharged, and approximately 21,000 gallons reached the sea.
State oil spill, wildlife, emergency services, and environmental field response personnel were dispatched on Tuesday and are working with local government first responders in Santa Barbara County in a unified command established by federal agencies.
The Governor's Office of Emergency Services, California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), and California Department of Parks and Recreation are leading state efforts to clean up hazardous material along the coast and protect sensitive habitat for the California least tern and western snowy plover -- two birds listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Highly trained teams from OSPR are also working closely with experts and scientists from the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and Oiled Wildlife Care Network to help address environmental impacts. The state is coordinating six boom boats, three 65-foot collection vessels and hand crews to assist with cleanup efforts.
The California Department of Parks and Recreation closed Refugio State Beach and El Capitán State Beach, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed impacted fisheries, prohibiting the take of finfish and shellfish in the area.