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Responding to the Santa Barbara Oil Spill

On May 19, 2015, crude oil began flowing from a broken pipeline adjacent to Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara, California. A reported 500 barrels flowed through a culvert under interstate 101 into the Pacific Ocean, before a leak in an oil pipeline was discovered and stopped. A large clean-up effort started immediately, with teams working around the clock.

So far, 1,200 personnel have begun cleaning up, and nearly 300 trained volunteers have spent more than 1,700 hours removing 205 bags of oily waste. Natural resource management agencies, both federal and state, have been on-site since they were first alerted of the spill. They have been documenting impacts to wildlife, human uses, and the coastal environment.

NOAA has been providing significant support to the response and cleanup. We work closely with other response agencies to ensure that clean-up efforts do not further harm natural resources.
As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, we also assess impacts to wildlife, recreational uses, and the coastal environment.

NOAA’s Restoration Center has been involved because of our expertise in measuring impacts to habitats and wildlife. Our scientists have provided input on measuring impacts to natural resources, including eelgrass, kelp, fish, and birds. They have helped design sampling protocols, collected data, and provided important insight on monitoring.

Read more about the response to the Refugio Beach oil spill.

Posted June 10, 2015

Aerial view of Refugio Beach after the spill.
Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique teams assess the shoreline. Credit: Dave Hubbard, UCSB.