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Response Vessels On-Site Within Hours of Santa Barbara Oil Spill

An oil skimmer recovers spilled oil near Goleta, California in this aerial photo of the spill area. The clean-up operation for the spill began hours after the spill, which took place on the morning of Tuesday, May 19.

An oil skimmer recovers spilled oil near Goleta, California in this aerial photo of the spill area. The clean-up operation for the spill began hours after the spill, which took place on the morning of Tuesday, May 19.

Clean Seas LLC deployed oil spill response vessels hours after thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean from a ruptured land-based pipeline in Southern California. The oil entered the Pacific Ocean via a storm drain at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County the morning of Tuesday, May 19.

A Unified Command established for the response effort includes Plains All American Pipeline (owner of the pipeline), and local, state and federal agencies, including the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention, and the Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management.

On May 20, a spokesperson of the Unified Command estimated that up to 2,500 barrels (105,000 gallons) of crude oil was released from the pipeline, and that about 500 barrels, (21,000 gallons) may have migrated into the water.

“Approximately 145 barrels (6,090 gallons) of oil have been collected by vacuum trucks, skimmer boats and other resources, as of today (May 20) at 9 a.m.” the statement continued.

Clean Seas is contracted to handle the onwater cleanup, while Patriot Environmental Services is doing the shoreline cleanup. A third company, Pacific Petroleum is contracted for the on-land cleanup surrounding the burst crude oil pipeline.

By Monday, May 25 there were 956 people, including employees and volunteers, working on the cleanup. Eighteen spill response vessels, including on-water skimmers and vacuum equipment, had removed 10,060 gallons of oily water mix. Five Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams had removed 310 cubic yards of oily vegetation, 760 cubic yards of oily sand, 141 cubic yards of oiled protective equipment and 2,610 cubic yards of oiled soil. Solid waste is loaded into bins, each holding approximately 20 cubic yards of oily soil.

Kepner Plastics Fabricators, Inc. of Torrance, California provided 3,750 feet of ocean oil-containment boom, 2,240 feet of hard boom and 1,849 feet of absorbent boom for the onwater response. 

By May 25, oiled wildlife included 25 birds that survived, and 13 that died, 18 mammals that lived and eight that died. Animals were taken to a number of facilities along the coast, and the public was given numbers to call when they encountered oiled animals.

Both Refugio Beach and nearby El Capitan Beach are closed to the public, and a 23-mile by seven-mile area offshore was closed to fishing because of oil in the affected areas from Arroyo Hondo creek to El Capitan Beach.

The 24-inch buried pipeline was transporting Las Flores Canyon OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) crude oil from a storage tank in Las Flores to refineries in Southern California. Named Line 901, it is capable of transporting approximately 150,000 barrels (6,300,000 gallons) of crude per day. The line typically operates at approximately 1,200 barrels (50,400 gallons) per hour. It was installed in 1987 by All American Pipeline.

Clean Seas LLC is a not-for-profit cooperative established in 1970 to respond to oil spills on the South Central Coast of California. It provides state-of-the-art oil spill response equipment, trained personnel, and expertise in response techniques, ready to respond to a spill 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Patriot Environmental Services has eight locations in California and one in Nevada, with a full range of oil cleanup equipment and expertise.

Pacific Petroleum California provides petroleum industry services and equipment rentals.

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