Crews have cleaned over 40 miles of coastline between Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Most of those beaches had only trace amounts of oil, but some areas were blackened by heavy sludge. The worst sections were rocky beaches that will have to be meticulously hand-scrubbed.
The 10-mile pipeline ruptured on May 19 and gushed over 100,000 gallons of crude oil for three hours. About 20,000 gallons spilled down a storm drain and into the ocean, creating a slick that stretched for miles. It is the worst oil spill on a California beach in the last 25 years, and the second major oil spill on this beach since 1969.
One class action lawsuit has already been filed and more could be on the way. According to the Lompoc Record, the district attorney has asked the county to budget $1.7 million over the next three or four years to hire environmental lawyers for possible legal action against the owner of the pipeline, Plains All-American Pipeline.
The company had 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006, the fifth-worst violator out of 1,700 pipeline operators, according to the Los Angeles Times. An inspection of the pipe found “extensive” external corrosion and a thickness of just one-sixteenth of an inch where it burst.