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DATE: May 26, 2016 1:34:46 PM PDT

The Unified Command for the Refugio Incident oil spill response announced the conclusion of monitoring operations along the majority of the Santa Barbara County coastline following sample results that yielded no match to Line 901 pipeline oil. Monitoring will continue at the cliff site where the oil initially entered the water, on a monthly basis until December 31, 2016.

The Unified Command used a three-phase approach to address the cleanup efforts from the Refugio Oil Spill, which occurred on May 19, 2015 when an underground pipeline (Line 901)  belonging to Plains All American Pipeline ruptured.  

Phase 1 was the active clean up of oil from the affected water, shoreline, and soil. Phase 1 concluded on August 31, 2015.  Phase 2 required that the shoreline meet specific clean up goals.  When oil from the spill was discovered, it was cleaned up and the affected portion of shoreline was subjected to further monitoring. 

Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams have been conducting ongoing evaluations of the affected beaches since the beginning of the response.  On January 22, 2016 it was determined that all beaches met all specific clean up goals for Phase 2.

The final phase, Phase 3, is the monitoring phase.  The Unified Command required:

  • monitoring of affected beaches from Arroyo Hondo to Rincon Point for buried oiled that could be uncovered through sand erosion
  • periodic oil sampling conducted throughout the Santa Barbara response areas
  • sampling of any oil found along the affected shoreline after the first significant storm event
  • setting and implementation of cleanup objectives if Line 901 oil is found
  • monitoring progress in areas where scientists determine that further cleanup would do greater harm to the environment versus natural recovery process.

In accordance with the Phase 3 monitoring plan, oil samples were collected during the week of May 9, 2016. For this sampling event, samples were obtained from 19 different locations along the Santa Barbara County coastline.  The samples collected were split so that the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and Plains All American Pipeline, the Responsible Party, could independently test the samples.  All samples collected were compared to the Refugio Oil Spill source, Line 901 oil from the pipeline, and all samples analyzed in May, yielded no match to the pipeline oil.

U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response test results from May 2016 sampling are summarized here: 

The Plains All American Pipeline sampling results are consistent with both the federal and state results.

For more information contact:

Joint Information Center
(805) 770-3682