Oil pipeline spills up to 105,000 gallons along Santa Barbara coast

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County in light of an oil spill near Refugio State Beach, reported on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

“This emergency proclamation cuts red tape and helps the state quickly mobilize all available resources,” said Gov. Brown. “We will do everything necessary to protect California’s coastline.”

According to a press release, “state oil spill, wildlife, emergency services and environmental field response personnel were dispatched” to work with Santa Barbara County first responders. The Plains update website also reports “[m]ore than 272 responders are taking part in the cleanup effort and more personnel enroute.”

Oil perimeter map as of May 20, 2015

Oil perimeter map as of May 20, 2015

The cause of the rupture by Line 901 is as yet unknown, until authorities are able to excavate the line and investigate. Line 901 is a 24-inch buried pipeline and has a capacity of transporting approximately 150,000 barrels (6,300,000 gallons) of crude on average per day. The pipeline was constructed in 1987, with its last major internal inspection a few weeks ago, and before that, 2012.

An L.A. Times analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration shows Plains’ rate of incidents per mile of pipe is more than three times the national average.

Currently, Refugio State Beach and El Capitán State Beach have been closed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Impacted fisheries have also been closed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, prohibiting the take of finfish and shellfish in the area.

This is not the first time that Santa Barbara County has dealt with an oil spill. In 1969, a well blowout during drilling on an offshore oil platform leaked up to 100,000 barrels (that’s more than 4 million gallons) of oil along the southern California coast line over a 10-day period.

Comparisons between 1969 and 2015 Santa Barbara oil spills

[row][double_paragraph][toggles title=”2015 Santa Barbara Spill”]1. Party Responsible: Plains All American Pipeline
2. Oil Spilled: est. 500-2,000 barrels
3. Duration: est. 3 hours
4. Cause: Ruptured pipeline
5. Shoreline impacted: Aprox. 9 miles just north of Refugio State Beach[/toggles][/double_paragraph][double_paragraph][toggles title=”1969 Santa Barbara Spill”]1. Party Responsible: Union Oil
2. Oil Spilled: 80,000 to 100,000 barrels
3. Duration: 10 days
4. Cause: Well blowout during drilling from offshore oil platform
5. Shoreline impacted: Pismo Beach to the Mexican border[/toggles][/double_paragraph] [/row]

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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 21 May, 2015, 19:57

    A disaster! 22,000 gallons of oil spilled and remained floating near the surface (the rest sunk back down into the depths)! Evil oil company did it again! Yada, yada, yada.

    Let’s put this messy oil spill in perspective. The NATURAL oil seepage in the Santa Barbara channel is THOUSANDS of times bigger than this 22,000 gallon oil spill. Consider this from a recent study done by scientists at UC Santa Barbara. Here’s an excerpt from this 2009 article on the study:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090513130944.htm

    ***
    Twenty years ago, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez was exiting Alaska’s Prince William Sound when it struck a reef in the middle of the night. What happened next is considered one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters: 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the pristine Alaskan waters, eventually covering 11,000 square miles of ocean.

    Now, imagine 8 to 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez accident.

    According to new research by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), that’s how much oil has made its way into sediments offshore from petroleum seeps near Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel. Their research, reported in an article being published in the May 15 [2009] issue of Environmental Science & Technology, documents how the oil is released by the seeps, carried to the surface along a meandering plume, and then deposited on the ocean floor in sediments that stretch for miles northwest of Coal Oil Point.
    ***

    . . .

    Go to the article for the full write-up.

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