Santa Barbara County's Refugio Beach and Campground closed following oil spill

May 19, 2015

Credit Map: Santa Barbara County Energy Division

Federal, state and local emergency crews were on the scene of a large oil spill along Santa Barbara County's South Coast Tuesday evening.

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday afternoon that the spill stretched roughly four miles in the area of Refugio State Beach.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services said Tuesday night that both the campground and beach areas were closed at Refugio. There was also a warning at El Capitan State Beach.

The oil came from the Plains All American Coastal Pipeline that runs on land along the shoreline and connects several of the offshore oil platforms with the Venoco Ellwood processing facility near Goleta and facilities in Kern County.

The rupture happened north of Highway 101 and leaked under the roadway and out to the coastal waters. The Coast Guard said Tuesday night that the leak had been identified and secured.

Officers and environmental scientists from the Department of Fish and Wildlife are responding and investigating the spill. Spokesperson Alexia Retallick said, depending on the source, there are several factors that make it hard to determine how much oil there actually is.

"Oil spreads very quickly and moves across a great distance, but it'll go thin, so depending on the thickness, the amount, the material, what we could be looking at may look greater than it is, or be greater than we think," said Retallick.

Fish and Wildlife does not give out estimates until they've had an oil spill prevention specialist investigate the scene.