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Environment and Energy

UPDATE: Source of oil sheen off Goleta Beach still to-be-determined

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US Coast Guard
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goleta_sheen_nprone.mp3
July 29, 2015

UPDATE - Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 3:06 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) said Thursday that "a slew of" oil samples were sent to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut Thursday morning to determine the cause of a three-mile-long sheen discovered Wednesday.

The results should be in no later than Sunday morning.

UPDATE - Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at 8:38 p.m.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department said Wednesday night that the U.S. Coast Guard has determined Wednesday's three-mile-long oil slick off the coast of Goleta was caused by natural seepage (this information from County Fire was later said to be incorrect by the USCG).

The county will continue to monitor the sheen's drift in the channel. All Santa Barbara County beaches and parks are open normal hours, as is fishing from the Goleta Pier.

Investigators were called in to determine the slick's source because its large size was cause for concern.

Original Story:

Investigators with several government agencies are searching for the source of a large oil sheen discovered Wednesday morning off Santa Barbara County's South Coast. 

 A team with Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper collected samples Wednesday of an oil sheen detected that morning about 1,000 yards off Goleta Beach. The group said that like the government agencies assigned to this incident, they're searching for a source.

Kira Redmond, the group's executive director, spoke with us from their boat.

"If this were another spill, to happen right on the heals of [the Refugio oil spill], that would be just devastating. It would obviously give us all the more reason to be lobbying actively, for better controls on oil production in our area," said Redmond.

The US Coast Guard is handling the investigation and updated information Wednesday afternoon.

Jeremy Maginot is the Coast Guard's spokesperson and said the sheen is too thin to contain with traditional methods. He said tar balls from Goleta Beach and sheen samples will be marked urgent for testing.

"If we can identify the source, then we have an opportunity to hold a responsible party accountable or to determine if it's just a natural seepage event," said Maignot.

If the oil is an active natural seep, the Coast Guard is not permitted to clean it up.

Santa Barbara County Fire said Goleta Beach Park remains open Wednesday evening.

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