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Environment and Energy

Reports examine how government agencies responded to Refugio oil spill

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Santa Barbara County Fire Department
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Crews work near the source of the May, 2015 oil spill near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County

Two of the main government organizations that responded to the Refugio oil spill nearly a year ago are now looking back and judging their efforts.

Both the US Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife released reports on Tuesday focused on what worked, what didn't, and how future disaster response efforts can be more efficient.

Amy Norris, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), said on the plus side various local, state and federal agencies coalesced quickly to form the United Command.

The state is also proud of its speed in cleaning up the roughly 100-thousand gallons of crude.

Norris said on the flip side of that coin, OSPR could have been faster about reaching out to the public.

"If we could be a little bit more proactive in telling people how they can volunteer, telling people what to do if they see oiled wildlife, just working with our local partners in advance to engage volunteers in the event of a spill, if there are already organized volunteers—that kind of thing," said Norris.

The reports only address response and cleanup operations, not investigations into the cause of the spill, effects or legal matters.