Wildlife, pristine beaches focus of ‘aggressive’ oil spill cleanup
Oil pipeline company officials said Wednesday that as many as 105,000 gallons of crude oil may have spilled from a ruptured pipeline on the California coast.
The 24-inch pipeline ruptured along the Santa Barbara coast, leaking the oil near Refugio State Beach, a protected state park, just before Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer tourist season.
Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline based the estimate — what it called a worst-case scenario — on the typical flow rate of oil and the elevation of the pipeline, said Rick McMichael, the company’s director of pipeline operations.
The pipeline is still underground, so it will take a few days to determine how much crude oil was actually spilled.
McMichael told reporters an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude had gone into the Pacific Ocean.
The cause of the spill was still being investigated, he said, but there were problems Tuesday morning at two of the company’s pump stations.
Plains Chairman Greg Armstrong said he was deeply sorry for the spill.
“We apologize for the damage that has been done to the wildlife and to the environment, and we’re very sorry for the disruption and inconvenience that it has caused the citizens and visitors of this area,” he said.