Cal­i­for­nia oil spill:

Ex­ten­sive harm to wildlife not seen; slick mov­ing to sea.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Christo­pher We­ber and Brian Melley

More than 7,700 gal­lons, just a frac­tion of what es­caped from a pipe­line, have been cleaned.

GO­LETA, CALIF. — More than 7,700 gal­lons of oil has been raked, skimmed and vac­u­umed from a spill that stretched across nine miles of Cal­i­for­nia coast, just a frac­tion of the sticky crude that es­caped from a rup­tured pipe­line, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day.

Up to 105,000 gal­lons may have leaked from the pipe­line Tues­day, and up to 21,000 gal­lons reached the sea just north­west of Santa Bar­bara, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates from the pipe­line op­er­a­tor.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact was still be­ing as­sessed, but there was no im­me­di­ate ev­i­dence of wide­spread harm to birds and sea life.

The early toll on wild- life in­cluded five oil-cov­ered pel­i­cans, which were taken in to be cleaned, of­fi­cials said. Bi­ol­o­gists counted dead fish and crus­taceans along sandy beaches and rocky shores.

The spill oc­curred along a long, rustic coast that forms the north­ern bound­ary of the Santa Bar­bara Chan­nel, home to a rich ar­ray of sea life. Whales, dol­phins, sea li­ons, seals, sea ot­ters and birds use the wa­ters be­tween the main­land and the Chan­nel Is­lands, five of which are a na­tional park sur­rounded by a na­tional marine sanc­tu­ary.

Work­ers shov­eled black sludge off beaches, and boats towed booms into place to cor­ral two oil slicks. The num­ber of cleanup work­ers sur­passed 300, and the num­ber of boats work­ing the slicks rose to 18, of­fi­cials said.

They could get help from ex­pected light winds and calm seas, said Sean An­der­son, an en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist at Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­sity, Chan­nel Is­lands.

“When the wa­ter’s choppy, the re­sponse gets com­pli­cated. But since the wa­ter’s nice and flat, the oil sticks to­gether and it’s eas­ier to spot and eas­ier to pick up,” he said.

Coast Guard Capt. Jen­nifer Wil­liams said the slicks were mov­ing seaward, not to­ward other beaches.

Reg­u­la­tors and work­ers with Plains All Amer­i­can Pipe­line LP, which runs the pipe­line, aimed to begin ex­ca­vat­ing the pipe Thurs­day to get their first look at the breach. The com­pany also was re­mov­ing con­tam­i­nated soil.

The 24-inch pipe, built in 1991, had no pre­vi­ous prob­lems and was thor­oughly in­spected in 2012, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. The pipe un­der­went sim­i­lar tests about two weeks ago, though the re­sults had not been an­a­lyzed yet.


Work­ers pre­pare an oil con­tain­ment boom Thurs­day at Refu­gio State Beach, north of Go­leta, Calif. More than 7,700 gal­lons of oil has been cleaned up from a spill that stretched along nine miles of Cal­i­for­nia coast. The oil leaked form a bro­ken pipe­line.

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