Update as of 12:30 a.m. EDT: Authorities said that 20 barrels of oil have been recovered so far in cleanup efforts after an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil was dumped into the ocean from a ruptured pipeline off the California coast in Santa Barbara County, a NBC Los Angeles reporter wrote on his Twitter account. The spill, which had so far covered about four miles of the beach could extend south by another 4 miles due to the winds, officials reportedly said.
A ruptured pipeline in California leaked 21,000 gallons of oil into the ocean Tuesday. Authorities say the conduit broke near Santa Barbara County and left a sheen of oil spanning about four miles of beach and running 50 yards into the ocean.
— KTLA (@KTLA) May 19, 2015
Federal officials, California authorities and local leaders are on the scene to coordinate cleanup efforts and investigate the cause of the leak, the Los Angeles Times reported. The pipeline, which is operated by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline and runs along the coast near Highway 101, has since been shut off.
Officials said it was unclear what type of oil was flowing through the coastal pipeline, the Times noted.
The U.S. Coast Guard estimated that about 21,000 gallons of oil leaked from the pipeline over the course of several hours, local media reported. State officials declined to comment on the size of the leak, saying it could take several days to determine the exact amount of spilled oil.
The Santa Barbara Channel suffered a massive oil spill in 1969 after a blowout on an offshore oil well. The incident set as many as 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the channel over a period of 10 days and killed thousands of seabirds.
Following Tuesday’s incident, no impacts to wildlife were immediately reported, according to California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pipeline spill forced closures at Refugio State Beach and prompted county emergency officials to post warnings at nearby El Capitan State Beach. Refugio beach is a popular vacation spot, and its campground is completely booked for Memorial Day weekend, KTLA reported.
“It would be smart to make plans elsewhere. I don’t know how long it would take, but I know the state beaches are closed now,” Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan McCormick told KTLA. “It’s going to be quite an operation there.”