California declares state of emergency over oil spill

Jeff Turner Flickr

A STATE of emergency has been declared in California’s Santa Barbara County after an onshore pipeline ruptured, causing two oil slicks that span nine miles.
Governor Jerry Brown decided last night (Wednesday 20) to declare the state of emergency to free up state funding and resources to help with the cleanup operation.
Initial estimates suggest that at least 21,000 gallons of crude oil poured into the Pacific Ocean off Refugio State Beach before the pipeline could be shut off, and Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley said that her office was investigating the spill in search of potential criminal prosecutions or civil liabilities.
Chairman and chief executive of Plains All American Pipeline, Greg L Armstrong, said he deeply regretted the incident and apologised to residents and visitors affected.
When the leak was detected on Tuesday, crude oil was flowing through the pipe at a speed of 84,000 gallons per hour. It took three hours to shut the pipe down, as the oil flowed down a storm drain into the ocean.
So far hundreds of gallons of oil have been removed from the water by boats skimming the sea surface, while about 130 people have been shovelling residue from beaches.
Wildlife teams are at hand trying to rescue birds and marine animals, and the Environmental Defense Center, which said the scene was devastating to watch, expressed particular concern over the many species of whale which migrate through the area.


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