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August 25, 2015


On May 19, 2015 Plains Pipeline Line 901 leaked and spilled approximately 101,000 to 140,000 gallons of oil, with an estimated 21,000 gallons reaching the ocean near Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara, California.  The Refugio Incident oil is viscous and as it weathered became semi-solid or asphaltic-like on some surfaces such as rocky cliffs, cobbles, and boulders.

Oil Spill Cleanup:

Unified Command is following a phased approach in accordance with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Shoreline Assessment Manual. This approach formalizes cleanup processes and goals for each phase. The Refugio Oil Spill cleanup effort has completed the first phase and is nearing completion of the second phase. As the third phase begins, teams will continue to survey and monitor from Arroyo Hondo to Rincon Point following the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) process.  The SCAT process characterizes and documents the nature and extent of oiling and recommends appropriate treatment within the affected areas. SCAT surveys will be conducted using standardized protocols by teams on foot for accessible shorelines in the affected area. SCAT teams will:

  • ·         Survey for buried oil that has been uncovered through sand erosion;
  • ·         Conduct periodic oil sampling throughout the Santa Barbara response area and compare oil samples to the oil that spilled from Line 901;
  • ·         Search for and sample oil in areas after the first significant storm event (storms erode beaches and may reveal previously unknown oil deposits);
  • ·         Conduct  sampling in December 2015 and May of 2016;
  • ·         Determine cleanup needs if Line 901 oil is found; and
  • ·         Monitor progress in areas where scientists determine that further cleanup would do greater harm to the environment versus natural recovery processes.

 The following agencies prepared the Refugio Response cleanup goals:

  • ·         Federal Agencies: US Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA Emergency Response, NOAA National Marine Fisheries, and US Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • ·         State Agencies: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (OSPR), California Department of Parks and Recreation, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and OSPR Cultural/Tribal Liaison.
  • ·         Local Agencies: Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, and the City of Goleta.
  • ·         The responsible party, Plains All American Pipeline, provided operational information on methods, materials, equipment and personnel to meet the goals.

 Any oil sightings should be reported immediately to:

  • ·         USCG National Response Center (NRC) at 800-424-8802
  • ·         California Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES) 800-852-7550

Additional information:

For more information contact:

Joint Information Center
(805) 770-3682