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Joint Oversight Hearing on the Plains All American Oil Spill Held in Santa Barbara

Refugio Response

Central Coast legislators are investigating last month's oil spill on the Santa Barbara County Coast. 

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams held a joint hearing today in Santa Barbara. 

On May 19 a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline ruptured spilling about 100,000 gallons of oil on the Gaviota Coast. Approximately 21,000 gallons of that flowed into the ocean.

During the cleanup crews recovered more than 14,000 gallons of an oily water mixture from the ocean. Wildlife workers rescued 57 live birds and 62 live marine mammals. They also recovered 195 dead birds and 106 dead marine mammals. Some of the rescued animals are still being cared for.

Patrick Hodges with Plains All American Pipeline, California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, and Chuck Bonham with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were among those who testified at the hearing today.

The lawmakers asked about the cause of the spill, the response timeline, the impacts on the environment and economy and the question Senator Jackson says is the, how to avoid such a spill in the future. 

“We need to identify what it is we do know and what it is we still need to know about this spill so we can help ensure that spills like this do not happen again,” Jackson said.

Jackson is introducing three pieces of legislation in response to this oil spill. SB 414 would provide a quicker response to such a spill by allowing local fisherman to begin cleaning up immediately and would make it illegal to use dispersant chemicals to clean up oil spilled in water.

SB 295 would reinstate annual pipeline inspections done by the state fire marshal. SB 788 would ban any new offshore drilling in the protected marine area known as the Tranquillon Ridge. 

The cost of the clean up as of June 23 is 92 million dollars and that number could increase as the clean up is about 94-percent complete according to Plains All American. 

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