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Santa Barbara County oil spill prompts Oxnard protest

Dozens of Ventura County residents were expected to protest against oil drilling and fracking

Dozens of Ventura County residents were expected to gather Saturday for an interfaith blessing of the ocean and to protest against oil drilling and fracking. 

The gathering near Mandalay County Park in Oxnard was planned amid reports of tar balls appearing on the coast as far south as Manhattan Beach following the May 19 oil spill at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara.

Tomás Morales Rebecchi, one of the organizers for the event, said tar balls has also been found on Oxnard Beach but authorities have not directly traced them back to the spill. 

"It seems too coincidental for it not to be related," he said, noting that an oil-slicked dolphin also washed up dead on the beach. 

The gathering, sponsored by a coalition of environmental and religious groups, was planned for 5 p.m. and was expected to include blessings from the Catholic, Chumash and Baha'i religious traditions. 

"We need to come together as people of faith and call for protection," Morales Rebecchi said. 

A burst pipeline released up to 101,000 gallons of crude at Refugio State Beach, with an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil flowing downhill from the spill site through a culvert, under the 101 Freeway and into the Pacific.

The pipeline, known as Line 901, transports crude oil from Las Flores to Gaviota and then to refineries throughout Southern California. It remains shut down while federal regulators investigate the cause of the failure, both on-site and at the company’s control room in Texas.

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