[Photos] Oil Spill Reported Along California Beach

Oil Spill California

Published May 20, 2015 8:37 PM by Kathryn Stone

A ruptured pipeline west of Santa Barbara, California has left local beaches covered in oil. 

Around noon on Tuesday visitors complained of a noxious smell in the area around Refugio Beach, about 20 miles outside of Santa Barbara. By about 3:30pm the oil slick was confirmed and had extended around four miles from where the spill was first discovered. Thick patches of oil have been reported washing ashore in and around Refugio Beach.

An estimated 21,000 gallons of oil leaked from the broken pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline, before it was shut off. The company issued a statement yesterday saying, “Plains shut down the flow of oil in the pipeline and has initiated its emergency response plan [and] is working with local officials and first responders on site to begin clean up and remediation efforts.” The company has also stated that it is taking every precaution to limit the spill’s environmental impact. 

Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing the oil cleanup operation and wildlife experts are addressing the spill’s effect on local animal populations. Additionally, the county Office of Emergency Services, Exxon and firefighters are all working to contain and mitigate the spill’s damage.  

Speaking to a Los Angeles news source, Capt. Jennifer Williams of the USCG stated that the spill will have to be monitored continuously to limit its environmental impact. Additionally, she added that the spill was of a medium degree of severity and that local wildlife should be able to recover from the damage. 

As of Tuesday night, Refugio State Beach was shut down and warnings were issued for El Capitan State Beach as the oil spill was reportedly moving south with the currents. It is unclear if beach closures will extend through the Memorial Day holiday.