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Environment and Energy

UPDATE: Beach in Summerland reopened after oil forces weekend closure

Santa Barbara County

UPDATE: Aug. 24, 2015 at 5:28 p.m.

The beach at Lookout Park in Summerland was reopened to the public Monday after being closed on Friday because of oil washing ashore.

Santa Barbara County Public Health said tidal action had reduced the amount of oil, and a strong petroleum odor had dissipated.

Water, sand and air samples were collected by the county and will be tested to help determine the oil's source.


The beach at Lookout Park in Summerland is closed indefinitely—possibly through the weekend—because of an unusual amount of oil washing ashore.

Strong petroleum odors in the area prompted the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to address the issue on Friday, saying contact could "pose short-term health impacts."

Mary Byrd is with the county's Air Pollution Control District and said Friday, in addition to avoiding the vapors, you should avoid physical contact as well.

"Yes, there's oil on the beach and that's also a problem," said Byrd. "You don't want to be in contact with the oil in any way."

Byrd said if you get crude oil or tar balls on your skin, you'll want to wash the area with soap or water as soon as possible. She said some people are more sensitive than others.

There was no official cause for of the oily substance at the beach in Summerland as of Friday afternoon, but the county said it is investigating.

Earlier this week, the State Lands Commission agreed to study old oil wells in the area to see if there are some potential problems there.

Credit Santa Barbara County
A patch of oil that washed ashore at Summerland's Lookout Park beach.

In July, a large oil sheen off the coast of Goleta was determined to be the result of natural oil seepage, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Santa Barbara County officials do not believe this oil is "directly related to the Refugio 901 incident" that happened back in May when a Plains All-American pipeline ruptured on the Gaviota coast, spilling an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil onto the shore and into the Santa Barbara Channel.