On May 19, 2015, NOAA was notified of a 24-inch pipeline rupture that occurred earlier in the day near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California. A reported 500 barrels (21,000 gallons) of crude oil flowed from the shore side of Highway 101 into the Pacific Ocean.
The source was secured. The oil consists of patches and streaks of various sizes and thicknesses, broken up and spread over approximately 20 miles of coast and up to 5 miles offshore. The percent of oil floating on the surface in the slicks is low, estimated to be less than 10 percent in the affected area.
The Office of Response and Restoration’s Jordan Stout, NOAA Scientific Support Coordinator has been on-scene throughout the response. OR&R has been providing overflight observation of the spill, information on fate and effects of the crude oil and potential environmental impacts both in the water and on the shore.
Cleanup efforts continue along the beach, in the water, and inland. According to the Unified Command, “The responsible party, Plains All-American Pipeline, is working closely with the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management. Nearly 700 responders have been ordered and/or are on scene. El Capitan Beach and Refugio State Beach have been closed to the public by California State Parks. Fishing has been banned from Refugio State Beach to Coal Oil Point.”
Cleanup measures include skimmers, vacuum trucks, absorbent pads, and absorbent boom. Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams are documenting the level of oil and impacts to the shoreline. As of noon Pacific Time on Friday, May 22, almost 9500 gallons of oily water have been collected from the ocean. This is a mixture of ten to thirty percent oil mixed with seawater. Oiled birds, including pelicans, and an oiled California sea lion were found stranded and are being taken care of by official wildlife rehabilitation teams.
Gusty west winds were expected today, followed by north to northwest canyon winds this evening. Winds are forecasted to diminish tonight then pick up on Saturday.
For further information, see the Joint information Center website: Refugio Response Information.