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Santa Barbara Oil Spill Might Be 40% Bigger Than Expected


August 5, 2015 — Plains All-American Pipeline says 40% more oil may have spilled onto the beaches of Santa Barbara than estimated, according to the Associated Press.

On May 19, a pipeline with “extensive corrosion” burst and spilled crude oil onto Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara, California. The company originally said about 101,000 gallons spilled on the beach and 21,000 gallons flowed into the ocean. However, now they estimated about 143,000 gallons actually spilled.

Plains All-American Pipeline said it has hired an independent consultant to reconcile the differences.

The company has been under fire for its slow response to the oil spill. Although federal law requires immediately notifying state agencies once a spill is confirmed, Plains waited about 90 minutes. The company also had 175 federal citations for safety and maintenance violations since 2006.

Senator Ed Market (D-Mass) issued a statement pointing a finger at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for “withholding information.”

He criticized federal pipeline regulators for redacting a document that estimated the “worst-case scenario” spill at 167,000 gallons, and said:

“The revelation that the Santa Barbara pipeline spill was much larger than originally thought underscores the importance of our pipeline safety agency providing complete information to Congress and the American people.”


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