Clean up efforts continue at Refugio Beach after pipeline rupture

May 21, 2015

Clean up crews gather seaweed, sand and debris among the rocks at Refugio State Beach.
Credit Jordan Bell

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County Wednesday to aid in cleaning efforts after an oil pipeline rupture at Refugio State Beach.

The ruptured pipeline could have released 105,000 gallons of crude oil into the water off the Santa Barbara County coastline. Crews are working, on and off the shores, to ensure safety and rehabilitate marine life. 

Nearly 24 hours after the spill was detected the smell the crude could be detected from Highway 101 approaching Refugio State Beach.  Clean-up crews spent Wednesday collecting slick coated sand and seaweed.

The pipeline brings crude from oil fields in Kern County and the operator, Plains All-American, is cooperating in the spill investigation.

Kira Redmond is with Santa Barbara ChannelKeeper. She said there’s a long and troubled history with oil in Santa Barbara after a catastrophic spill in 1969.

"But it's an oil rich area. There's been platforms here for a very long time. So we live with what we have and try to have a lot of a lot of advocacy groups out there on the water like ChannelKeeper monitoring to make sure things like this don't happen," said Redmond.

A spokesman for The Western States Petroleum Association, Tupper Hull,  said the industry does value safety.

"Our members are very deeply saddened to see this kind of accident," said Hull. "Once this is cleaned up, once all of the resources that they can provide to assist in that effort, they're gonna make darn sure that they know what happened and what can be done to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The Pipeline company says it will likely have to excavate the nearly 30-year-old line before they can determine why it ruptured.