The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Coast Guard issued an order to Plains Pipeline, the owner and operator of the pipe that leaked heavy crude oil near Refugio Beach, Santa Barbara, California, to continue its cleanup work inland, beachside, and in the ocean, to contain the oil and prevent further shoreline contamination.
This joint federal Clean Water Act order 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.
The compliance order requires Plains Pipeline to continue oil removal and site control operations currently underway until a work plan is approved; submit to the Coast Guard and EPA by June 6 a written work plan for response activities, including plans for sampling and analyzing air, water, rocks and soil; ensure no more oil is released into the environment; and clean up all remaining oil and petroleum contamination at the release and oil-impacted areas
”Our action today is to make sure the oil response work continues until the Santa Barbara County coastline is restored,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. ”Working closely with our local, state and federal partners, we will see this cleanup through to the end.”
Since the 24-inch pipeline ruptured on May 19, with an estimated 105,000 gallons of heavy crude inside, trained cleanup crews have been working to capture and remove oil that has leaked from the pipeline, seeped into the soil, and reached the shoreline and ocean. .
Nearly 1,000 people have participated cooperatively under the Unified Command formed by EPA and USCG. 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.
Environmentalists seized the momentum created by a public outrage over the spill to put pressure on California regulators to dismissed proposed expansion of the only offshore drilling operation in the area run by Venoco In.
Venoco is currently trying to obtain permission to expand its drilling operations to further 1,400 hectares within a coastal sanctuary off Santa Barbara, and increase the production to 6,400 barrels per day. The added capacity is planned to be transported through the pipeline that burst May 19.