On Tuesday, ruptured pipelines operated by Plains All American Pipeline leaked approximately 21,000 gallons of crude oil onto the Santa Barbara County shoreline near Refugio State Beach.
The leak originated onshore from a 24-inch pipeline on the side of a mountain near Highway 101. The oil spill stretches four miles along the coast at a location 15 miles northwest of the UC Santa Barbara campus, according to UCSB emergency alerts. Plains All American Pipeline transports oil produced by ExxonMobil and Arguello, Inc.
The Office of Emergency Management and Santa Barbara County Fire located the fracture and were able to stop the flow from the pipe with a valve. Plains, Exxon and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the incident, and emergency responders declared the area stable at 3 p.m.
In a press release issued by Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, executive director Kira Redmond said Channelkeeper plans to participate in the clean-up process and will conduct environmental impact studies of the oil spill.
“We will be out on the water to investigate the extent and impacts of the spill, monitor the containment efforts, keep the public updated, provide any assistance we can with the clean-up and ultimately ensure that the responsible party cleans up the oil that has marred our precious beaches, ocean and marine life,” Redmond said.
Channelkeeper recommends the public stay away from Refugio State Beach and to report to Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network should they see any oiled wildlife.
In a statement provided by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), executive director Owen Bailey said the crude oil spill is disturbing in that it damages the surrounding environment and harms marine life and other wildlife nearby.
“To see this level of spill into such a sensitive and treasured environment is devastating to watch,” Bailey said. “These waters are known as the Galapagos of North America, with numerous species of endangered whales migrating through marine protected areas and off the iconic and beloved Gaviota Coast.”
According to the press release, Bailey said the Refugio State Beach oil spill prompts the public to take greater precaution so as to better protect the environment, like the spill in 1969.
“In the wake of the terrible 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, our communities have fought for many years to protect this as one of the most important environments in all of California,” Bailey said. “This is an important reminder that we must redouble our efforts to make safer, cleaner and forward-looking decisions on energy production.”
[Correction: This article originally stated the leak originated from an abandoned pipeline. However, the pipeline belonging to Plains All American Pipeline was not abandoned.]