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DATE: May 31, 2015 11:40:22 PM PDT

Incident Summary:

The Unified Command continues to respond to the Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara County, California. Information current as of 8 p.m. Sunday, May 31.

Specific Updates:


The Unified Command for the Refugio oil spill response reminds drivers that there is a single-lane closure in the southbound direction of U.S. 101 west of Refugio Beach in Goleta, California, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, due to use of heavy equipment in response to the cleanup efforts. 

The Unified Command is working with Ventura County in response to tar balls washing ashore. Shoreline assessment and cleanup has been initiated for urban beaches.

Shoreline cleanup assessment teams are evaluating Ventura beaches identified as environmentally or culturally sensitive. This is nesting season for endangered snowy plovers; responders are taking great care to clean the areas without affecting the birds. Because of snowy plover presence over large areas of beach in Ventura, the speed of cleanup may be affected to prevent disturbance.

In addition to tarball sightings in Ventura County, sightings occurred on Los Angeles County beaches. Sampling occurred at all affected beaches in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Oil fingerprint analysis reports are pending.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department recommended that beach visitors in the Ventura area avoid contact with oil sheen on the water and tar balls on the beach. If oil gets on your skin, quickly clean the area with soap and water, baby oil, or another safe cleaning compound.

Response assets: 

  • Personnel assigned:                      1,153   
  • Vessels assigned:                         13
  • SCAT teams:                                5
  • Helicopters:                                  2           
  • Boom (hard and absorbent):          10,580 feet

 Cleanup continues at numerous locations from Refugio Beach to the Ventura beaches. Please report tar balls and oil on the beach to  805-770-3682.

 Recovered material: 

  • Oiled vegetation:                510 cubic yards
  • Oiled sand:                        540 cubic yards
  • Oiled soil:                          3,840 cubic yards
  • Oily water mixture:             11,915 gallons

The Unified Command has an oiled waste plan in place for the removal and proper disposal of the sand, soil, vegetation and other debris from the cleanup area.

 Shoreline Activities

  •      Total surveyed shoreline:   51.7 miles
  •      Shoreline impacted:           40.3 miles

Several dive teams are surveying the ocean floor for submerged oil that may have been deposited during the initial days of the incident. Surveys from two consecutive days have found no oil to recover from the seven sites surveyed.

The Unified Command developed a plan for the cobble beaches which will be attended to once the remaining oil has been removed in order to prevent re-oiling.

 Wildlife effected since response began: 

  •         Birds recovered live:             52     
  •         Birds recovered dead:           50    
  •         Mammals recovered live:       36   
  •         Mammals recovered dead:     30   

Capture and recovery teams continue to rescue wildlife affected by the incident. The public should not attempt to rescue oiled wildlife. Untrained individuals who attempt to rescue wildlife may cause more harm than good and may injure themselves in the process. Please report oiled wildlife sightings to 1-877-823-6926.

Beach Closures:

  • El Capitan State Beach
  • Refugio State Beach

Fishery Closures:

For the safety of the cleanup crews and the public, the fishery closure remains in effect from Canada de Alegria to Coal Oil Point fisheries and remains closed until further notice. 

Safety Zone:

A safety zone is currently in effect around the cleanup operations, from Coal Oil Point to Gaviota State Beach, six miles of shoreline extending 500 yards offshore. Mariners in the vicinity may receive broadcasts via marine band radio channel 16. 

Temporary Flight Restriction:

A Federal Aviation Administration flight restriction remains in effect in the area of the response. Aircraft not directed as part of the response may not enter the airspace of Refugio State Beach. The restriction encompasses a five-mile radius around the park with a 1,000-foot ceiling.


For more information contact:

Joint Information Center
(805) 770-3682