Federal, state and local officials were responding to a 4-mile-wide oil slick that poured from a ruptured pipeline into the waters off Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County on Tuesday.
A pungent smell wafted across the coastline from the spilled oil on the popular beach about 20 miles west of downtown Santa Barbara.
U.S. Coast Guard crews were responding to an “unknown sheen” at Refugio, the guard’s Los Angeles/Long Beach office Twitter account initially stated.
The sheen was from a ruptured pipeline on the shore side that had been “secured,” the Coast Guard office later confirmed in a tweet.
County fire and emergency officials were responding to the 4-mile-wide of oil slick, the Coast Guard stated, saying it would oversee cleanup of the oil.
The Coast Guard also said in a tweet that Exxon was responding, but ExxonMobil spokesman Christian Flathman said the pipeline was not one of the company’s and the company was not responding.
Houston-based Plains All-American Pipeline was later identified as the “responsible party.”
The company acknowledged a release of crude oil from its “24-inch Las Flores to Gaviota pipeline,” in a written statement.
“Plains shut down the flow of oil in the pipeline and has initiated its emergency response plan. The culvert has been blocked so no additional oil is reaching the water,” the statement read.
The Santa Barbara Channel was the site of a massive oil spill in 1969 that left the coast darkened with oil, killed thousands of birds and galvanized the environmental movement.
An effort to permanently ban off-shore oil drilling in state waters off Santa Barbara failed in the state Assembly last August.