On the afternoon of May 19th, Plains All American Pipeline reported oil spilled from a transmission pipeline under Highway 1, affecting the coast and ocean north of Santa Barbara and spreading.
Agencies Responding Quickly
While we are sad to hear this unfortunate news, agencies have responded and are working 24/7 to contain the spill. Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency in Santa Barbara County, and more than 272 responders are manning the cleanup effort, with more on the way. Crews are hand cleaning oiled beaches, boats are deploying booms and skimming oil from the ocean’s surface, and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network has been set up to help affected birds and mammals. The public has been prohibited from visiting Refugio and El Capitan Beach, and fishing and shellfish harvesting in the area are closed .
The response to contain the spill is a testament to the preparedness of the network of responders that is on the scene. Fifteen local, state and federal agencies are working under a unified command that coordinates response efforts and updating the media. The Office of Spill Prevention and Response is liaising with three tribes from the area, who have received training and will monitor beach cleaning operations in two areas of archaeological concern.
MPA Monitoring Helps Understand Impact
The spill is located in between Campus Point and Naples marine protected areas – so a great deal of energy has already been taken to monitor and steward this part of the coast. Ecosystem monitoring data commissioned by California Ocean Science Trust will be critical in helping us understand the impact of the oil spill, as well as the ongoing monitoring and research by citizen science groups, non profits, and UC Santa Barbara.
NGOs Play Key Role
MPA Collaborative member NGOs are actively monitoring cleanup efforts and informing their constituents.
- Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center has been on the scene, documenting the damage in a photo gallery and holding daily press conferences.
- Heal the Bay’s Dana Murray was recently trained to clean up the spill, and blogged on the spill here and here
- Surfrider’s response and update
- Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s statement
- West Marin Environmental Action Committee’s action alert urging support of SB 788 to prevent drilling in state waters from offshore oil platforms located in federal waters
Our hats go off to the agencies, NGOs and tribal members that are tirelessly responding to the spill, and our hearts go out to the wildlife and habitats affected.