The spill, which some estimate to be the largest in 46 years to hit the Santa Barbara shoreline, created a nine-mile slick along Refugio State Beach.
Cleaning up oil from a burst pipeline leaked onto iconic California beaches and the surrounding ocean could take months, a U.S. Coast Guard captain said Thursday.
“It’s a long process,” said Coast Guard Captain Jennifer Williams, federal on-scene coordinator of the spill response. “These types of things continue on, perhaps for months, to make sure the environment is restored to its original condition.”
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Wednesday after almost 2,500 barrels of crude petroleum spilled onto two state beaches and into the Pacific the previous day when the Plains All American Pipeline was damaged.
The spill, which some estimate to be the largest in 46 years to hit the Santa Barbara shoreline, created a nine-mile slick along Refugio State Beach stretching 50 yards out into the water, leading environmentalists to fear for the damage to marine life.
The Environmental Defense Center condemned the spill and pointed the finger at Plains for failings that allowed it to occur.
“There continues to be a number of questions … including why there was no automatic shut-off on this relatively new pipeline, and why the early response was not more successful in halting the flow,” the group’s head Owen Bailey said.
“This region is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including numerous species of endangered whales and iconic coastlands that bring people from across the world to visit.”