This will be a continuing saga. No word yet as to why the pipeline broke. But the company that owns it wasn’t aware of it until people at the campgrounds complained about the smell and local firefighters responded and found the oil.
GOLETA — A broken pipeline spilled 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean before it was shut off Tuesday, creating a slick stretching about 4 miles along the central California coastline, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Authorities responding to reports of a foul smell near Refugio State Beach around noon found a half-mile slick already formed in the ocean, Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. They traced the oil to the onshore pipeline that spilled into a culvert running under the U.S. 101 freeway and into a storm drain that empties into the ocean.
Continuing coverage from the local paper, the Santa Barbara Independent:
Health officials ordered Refugio State Beach closed and its campers relocated just as oil-covered birds and other distressed wildlife began washing ashore. Fishing and shellfish harvesting has been shut down on both sides of the beach, and news helicopters showed migrating whales skirting the sheen. A family living near Orella Ranch evacuated their home because the fumes were so overwhelming.