June 4, 2015 — Federal regulators say a stretch of pipeline that broke and caused a massive oil spill on the beaches of Santa Barbara was badly worn and had “extensive” external corrosion, the Associated Press reports.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says the 10.6-mile pipeline, known as Line 901, had serious corrosion problems and had been repaired three times since 2012.
The part of the pipe that broke had been worn down to just 1/16 of an inch — less than the thickness of a penny — and had a 6-inch opening near the bottom of the pipe.
When the 24-inch pipeline broke on May 19, about 101,000 gallons of crude oil spilled underground and flowed down a culvert to the beach. About 20,000 gallons made it into the ocean, coating the beaches with sludge and creating a 9-mile slick.
According to US News, 9 dolphins, 36 sea lions, and 87 birds were dead as of Tuesday. Another 58 birds, 32 sea lions, and 6 elephant seals were rescued.
With the beaches shut down and fishing banned, Plains Pipeline is now facing a class action lawsuit from a fisherman who says the spill will cause decades of environmental damage. He is seeking compensation on behalf of other commercial fishermen and business owners who had economic losses due to the spill.