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Some tarballs on L.A. County beaches came from Santa Barbara oil spill

Some tarballs on L.A. County beaches came from Santa Barbara oil spill
Workers examine the coastline in Long Beach for tarballs. The tarballs have also washed ashore in Oxnard, Malibu and the South Bay. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times)

Crude oil from a pipeline rupture in Santa Barbara County last month floated down the coast to beaches in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, according to separate lab results released Monday by both state officials and the Texas pipeline company.

One sample of tarballs found in Manhattan Beach matched crude oil released into the ocean when the pipe broke May 19, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

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As much as 21,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean.

A separate analysis of six tarball samples found that two of the samples - from beaches in Ventura and Los Angeles counties - had oil from the broken Line 901.

That separate analysis was conducted by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and UC Santa Barbara, Plains officials said.

Plains officials have not said where exactly the two samples were taken and calls to Plains, Woods Hole and UCSB were not immediately returned

According to the fish and wildlife agency, low levels of tarballs "are typically present on Southern California beaches from natural sources, most commonly from offshore seepage from fissures in the sea bed."

But the higher number of tarballs that appeared in beaches after the oil spill led officials to wonder whether they were connected to the May rupture.

“This news underscores how dangerous oil spills are to our precious coastline,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said Monday afternoon. “That’s why I am firmly against coastline drilling, whether it’s in Hermosa Beach or in the Arctic.”

Lieu said he expects Plains All American Pipeline to pay for any cleanup costs as well as pay any penalties that might result from the spill.

Follow @jpanzar 

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