Friday, 22 May 2015

California's oil spill declared a state of emergency

Why is it that I get the feeling that the reason they can't sweep this one under the carpet because it is in plain view where everyone can see it? It has also happened in one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere

Broken Pipeline Leaks 21,000 Gallons of Oil Into Pacific Ocean Off California Coast
A 24-hour-a-day operation is underway to clean up the 21,000 gallons of oil that leaked into the Pacific Ocean during a central California pipeline break.



26 November, 2014


So far, they've raked, skimmed and vacuumed more than 6,000 gallons of that oil from the water, but there was worse news discovered by investigators. The 21,000 gallons of oil that went into the water may have been just a fraction of the leakage; as many as 105,000 gallons may have spilled from the broken pipeline, in total.

Federal regulators continue to investigate the leak as boats towed booms into place to corral the oil slicks from the spill that stretched 9 miles long off the Santa Barbara coast.

The chief executive of the company that runs the pipeline, Plains All American Pipeline LP, was at the site of the spill Wednesday and apologized for it.

"We deeply, deeply regret that this incident has occurred at all," Chairman and CEO Greg L. Armstrong said at a news conference. "We apologize for the damage that it's done to the wildlife and to the environment."

Armstrong said the company had received permission to continue cleanup operations around the clock and vowed that they "will remain here until everything has been restored to normal."

Crude was flowing through the pipe at 54,600 gallons an hour at the time of the leak Tuesday, the company said. Company officials didn't say how long it leaked before it was discovered and shut down, or discuss the rate at which oil escaped.

Federal regulators from the Department of Transportation, which oversees oil pipeline safety, investigated the leak's cause, the pipe's condition and the potential regulatory violations.

The 24-inch pipe built in 1991 had no previous problems and was thoroughly inspected in 2012, according to Plains. The pipe underwent similar tests about two weeks ago, though the results had not been analyzed yet.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the company accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006, according to federal records. The infractions involved pump failure, equipment malfunction, pipeline corrosion and operator error. The paper said a Plains Pipeline spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its regulatory record.

In case you missed it - comparison of the 1969 spill to the current one in Santa Barbara ->
There was no estimate on the cost of the cleanup or how long it might take.

A combination of soiled beaches and pungent stench of petroleum caused state parks officials to close Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach, both popular campgrounds west of Santa Barbara, over the Memorial Day weekend.

Still, tourists were drawn to pull off the Pacific Coast Highway to eye the disaster from overlooking bluffs.

"It smells like what they use to pave the roads," said Fan Yang, of Indianapolis, who was hoping to find cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara, about 20 miles away. "I'm sad for the birds — if they lose their habitat."

The early toll on wildlife included two oil-covered pelicans, said spokeswoman Melinda Greene. Biologists were seen counting dead fish and crustaceans along sandy beaches and rocky shores.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife closed fishing and shellfish harvesting for a mile east and west of Refugio beach and it deployed booms to protect the nesting and foraging habitat of the snowy plover and the least tern, both endangered shore birds.

The coastal area is habitat for seals, sea lions and whales, which are now migrating north through the area.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday night declared a state of emergency because of the spill, a move that frees up additional state funding and resources to help in the cleanup.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office, along with the state attorney general, is investigating the pipeline spill for possible criminal prosecution or a finding of civil liability.

The coastline was the scene of a much larger spill in 1969 — the largest in U.S. waters at the time — that is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.

Environmental groups used the spill as a new opportunity to take a shot at fossil fuels and remind people of the area's notoriety with oil spills.

"Big Oil comes with big risks — from drilling to delivery," said Bob Deans, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Santa Barbara learned that lesson over 40 years ago when offshore drilling led to disaster."

Large offshore rigs still dot the horizon off the coast, pumping crude to shore and small amounts of tar from natural seepage regularly show up on beaches. The leak occurred in a pipe that was carrying crude from an onshore facility toward refineries further down the chain of production.

The oil spilled into a culvert running under a highway and into a storm drain that emptied into the ocean.


"NATO and the United States should change their policy because the time when they dictate their conditions to the world has passed," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Dushanbe, capital of the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan

'Nightmare' California oil spill damages rare coastal ecosystem
Activists say accident is soiling Gaviota coast, a Mediterranean-climate region of which there are only five in the world, and will be closed off for weeks or months Pipeline Leaks 21,000 Gallons of Oil Into Pacific Ocean Off California Coast


20 May, 2015


Cleanup crews scrambled to contain a nine-square-mile spill on a rural stretch of the California coastline on Wednesday, following a pipeline break that dumped up to 105,000 gallons of crude on land and into the ocean, blackening a popular state beach.

Darren Palmer, the chairman and CEO of Plains All-American Pipeline, a Houston-based company, told reporters Wednesday evening that an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude may have reached the water. The cause of the leak has not been identified, Palmer said, but shortly before the accident, he said, the company had “mechanical issues” with its pumping units.

Until then, Palmer said, the pipeline had not malfunctioned since 1987, when it was built to carry processed crude from processing plants on the coast to refineries in Texas.

We deeply regret that this incident has occurred at all,” Palmer said. “We apologize for the damage it has done to the environment. We apologize to the residents and visitors for the inconvenience it has caused, especially on this Memorial Day weekend.”

Some of the spilled oil found its way through a highway storm drain into the ocean near Refugio State Beach, 25 miles west of Santa Barbara.

The smell absolutely burned your throat, your nose, made you dizzy and gave you a headache,” said Leslie Freeman, who runs a cattle ranch about a quarter-mile from Refugio. “It came up the beach and the canyon and settled around our house and barn.”

Freeman said his daughter and granddaughter spent the night in a hotel in Goleta, about 15 miles east of the ranch, to escape the fumes. More than 270 workers were deployed Wednesday to comb the beaches for injured wildlife and begin cleanup operations, US coast guard officials said. There is no estimate yet on the number of oiled birds and marine mammals that have been rescued.

The Refugio spill is much smaller than the 3 million-gallon oil spill that struck the Santa Barbara waterfront in 1969 and gave birth to the environmental movement in the United States.

But environmentalists said this latest accident hit hard, because it is soiling the Gaviota coast, a rare Mediterranean-climate region where northern and southern plants and wildlife meet. There are only five such regions in the world, all of them located at the western edges of continents and all of them unique for their biological diversity.

Because it has not been urbanized, the Gaviota coast region, which stretches from Goleta to the northern boundary of the Vandenberg air force base, also has been viewed as the healthiest remaining coastal ecosystem in southern California – at least, until now.


The Gaviota coast is a global resource that needs to be attended to with greater respect and restraint,” said Phil McKenna, president of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, a nonprofit group that sought and failed to win a national park designation for the area during the administration of President George W Bush.
When I saw that first image of oil oozing out of the bluffs, it was a nightmare.”

By mid-afternoon, about 15 workers at Refugio in white paper suits were throwing bags of contaminated kelp and blobs of tarry oil onto a large pile for pickup and disposal. A brisk wind onshore wind was blowing, and much of the oil had floated off the sand with the tide, leaving a black ring of tarred rocks along the shore.

A flock of pelicans was fishing in the area, raising the possibility that the birds might get over-chilled in the cold water if their oily feathers clumped together, said Dennis Chastain, an oil prevention specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

One of the biggest challenges, he said, will be cleaning up blackened rocks on the cobble beach above the tidal zone. One approach is to deluge them with water, and another, more time-consuming, is to hand-clean them, he said. Fish and Wildlife and the Coast Guard were leading the cleanup operations.

Several boats and helicopters were deployed off the coast today to identify patches of slick where a cleanup vessel could drive through, mopping up the oil, or set out floating booms to contain the oil. Three thousand feet of containment boom were deployed on Wednesday, officials said.

Chastain said he expected Refugio to remain closed through Labor Day.

The loss of Refugio’s palm-studded campground and sandy beach for unknown weeks or months to come will also be a blow for the surfers who ride the waves of the protected cove, and for the paddle boarders who cross the waters from Refugio to El Capitan state beach, a world-class surfing spot now in the path of the oncoming spill. The El Capitan campground and beach have been evacuated, though it is not yet clear whether the slick has reached the beach.

When you’re out in the ocean anywhere along the Gaviota coast, you don’t see cars or buildings much,” said Ken Palley, a member of the executive committee of Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve public access to the beach.

You are out in this pristine ocean wilderness, and you feel like you’re going back in time. Now it’s going to be disgusting and horrible and nasty and poisonous. It shows how poorly the oil industry regulates itself.”

Fishermen, though, are not so concerned. In mid-June they will begin plying the waters of this coast a mile offshore for halibut and sea cucumber, and they say they’re used to oil slicks. A natural oil seep lies about a mile below the Refugio spill and trawlers regularly fish there, blackening the sides of their boats, said Mick McCorkle, president of the Southern California Trawlers Association, a group of 15 small trawlers.

It doesn’t affect fishing on the bottom at all,” he said.






Standing in crude oil washing ashore north of Santa Barbara. An estimated 105,000 gallons may have spilled. The slick stretches nine miles along the Pacific coast. Refugio State Beach is evacuated. Governor Brown has declared a state of emergency.

Erin Brockovich

What was originally thought to be around 21,000 barrels is now over 105,000 barrels of oil spilled on to the pristine beaches of Santa Barbara County. Yesterday Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County to free up resources to respond to the spill, which as the following horrible images show, is far worse than it initially appeared.

Lies, damn lies and statistic...why did it take so long to shut down this pipeline...it was flowing oil into the sea for over 2-hours.





This is what California's oil spill looks like








Santa Barbara oil spill: Crude flowed 'well below' capacity in ruptured pipe


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