Refugio dive team says evidence of underwater oil contamination hard to find

Jul 2, 2015

A visual underwater survey of the Refugio oil spill site showed promising signs of recovery according to the group, Reef Watch California.

A view of an oil streak visible in the Santa Barbara Channel following the May 19, 2015 Plains All-American Pipeline rupture near Refugio State Beach, Calif.
Credit NOAA

The organization has been monitoring the area twice annually for nearly a decade and sent six divers into the water again yesterday.

Director Jan Freiwald said the survey team told him no oil was visible on the reef nor on the sea floor. They'll now compare the data to previous notes on some 75 species.

Freiwald said his team of volunteers were unable to survey immediately following the spill because of safety concerns. 

"I wish there would have been a team of divers ready that was special trained to do that kind of surveys.  Currently we don't have a team like that, but we're working on that now" said Freiwald.

Freiwald said his organization will work with the authorities to be prepared to dive immediately following any future spills.