SANTA BARBARA, CA, May 29, 2015 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Coast Guard have officially issued a joint federal Clean Water Act order to ensure the cleanup of heavy crude oil that leaked from a pipeline near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, Calif., on Tuesday, May 20 (see "Crude oil spill contaminates Santa Barbara beach; cleanup efforts underway").
The order requires Plains Pipeline, L.P. (Plains All American Pipeline), the pipeline owner and operator, to continue its cleanup work inland, beachside and in the ocean, to contain the oil and prevent further shoreline contamination. Further, it establishes federally enforceable timelines and cleanup requirements for the long-term response action that will be required to clean up the largest coastal spill in California in the last 25 years.
Since the 24-inch pipeline ruptured, with an estimated 105,000 gallons of heavy crude inside, trained cleanup crews have been working to capture and remove oil that has leaked, seeped into the soil and reached the shoreline and ocean. The Coast Guard and EPA mobilized immediately after notification of the spill and integrated into a Unified Command with California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Santa Barbara County's Office of Emergency Management.
The compliance order requires Plains to:
- Continue oil removal and site control operations currently underway until a work plan is approved
- Submit to the Coast Guard and EPA a written work plan by June 6 for response activities, including plans for sampling and analyzing air, water, rocks, and soil
- Ensure no more oil is released into the environment
- Clean up all remaining oil and petroleum contamination at the release and oil-impacted areas
Nearly 1,000 people have participated cooperatively under the Unified Command. On the ocean, 2,240 feet of hard boom and 1,840 feet of sorbent boom have been used, and 10,060 gallons of oily water have been recovered from skimming operations. Crews on land have removed 310 cubic yards of oiled vegetation, 760 cubic yards of oiled sand and 2,610 cubic yards of oiled soil. The EPA and U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are investigating the cause of the failure and its environmental impacts.