Clean-up underway after California oil spill
GOLETA, Calif. (AP) – Clean-up crews fanned out Wednesday along a stretch of scenic California coastline stained by thousands of gallons of crude oil that spilled from a broken pipe and flowed into the Pacific Ocean.
Workers from an environmental clean-up company strapped on boots and gloves and picked up shovels and rakes to tackle the gobs of goo stuck to sand and rocks along Refugio State Beach on the southern Santa Barbara County coast.
The accident Tuesday happened on the same stretch of coastline as a 1969 spill, which was the largest ever in United States waters at the time and is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.
Members of the International Bird Rescue organisation were also on hand Wednesday to clean any birds that become covered with oil, though none were immediately spotted in the calm seas that produced small waves.
Fan Yang, 26, of Indianapolis, stood on a bluff overlooking the beach, where the stench of petroleum was heavy.
“It smells like what they use to pave the roads,” said Yang, who was hoping to find cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara. “I’m sad for the birds – if they lose their habitat.”
The broken onshore pipeline spewed oil down a storm drain and into the ocean for several hours Tuesday before it was shut off, creating a slick some four miles long about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara.
Initial estimates put the spill at about 21 000 gallons, but that figure would likely change after a Wednesday flyover gave a better sense of the scope, U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Jennifer Williams said.
Authorities responding to reports of a foul smell near Refugio State Beach around noon found a half-mile slick in the ocean, county fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said. They traced the oil to the pipeline that spilled into a culvert running under a highway and into a storm drain that empties into the ocean.
The 24-inch pipeline was shut off about three hours later. It’s owned by Plains All American Pipeline, which said it stopped the flow of oil and blocked the culvert.