Oil spill cleanup extends to Ventura County

Oil spill cleanup

Workers continue to clean the shoreline at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County after a crude oil pipeline ruptured on May 19, spilling thousands of gallons into the ocean.

( Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The cleanup response to the oil spill that fouled miles of beaches along the Santa Barbara County coast will now extend to Ventura County, where tar balls have been spotted on beaches, officials said Friday.

The pipeline’s owners said it will dispatch cleanup contractors to Hollywood, McGrath and San Buenaventura beaches in Ventura County, though federal authorities have not confirmed whether the oil there is from the spill.

“Until we know more, we will act as if it is related to our incident,” said Rick McMichael, senior director of operations at Plains All American Pipeline, which operates the pipeline.

Oil has spread several miles up and down the coast since the pipeline burst May 19, with tar balls washing ashore in Ventura County in recent days.


The 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 pipeline regulators investigate the cause of the failure, both on-site and at the company’s control room in Texas.

The spill has closed several miles of beaches on the Gaviota Coast while cleanup workers try to remove oil from the rocks, sand and the ocean surface. Officials said 22 oil-stricken birds and 14 marine mammals have died as a result of the spill, while another 40 birds and 28 marine mammals have been rescued.


Get our Essential California newsletter