A pipeline ruptured along the scenic California coastline on Tuesday, spilling some 21,000 gallons (79,000 liters) of oil into the ocean and on beaches before it could be secured, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.
The pipeline, which runs parallel to Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, created a slick about four miles (6.4 km) wide in the ocean, extending about 50 yards (46 meters), Petty Officer Andrea Anderson of the Coast Guard said.
The line is owned by Plains All American Pipelines.
Anderson said the company responsible for the 24-inch (61- cm) pipeline was identified as Plains All American Pipeline, which had brought in a company to begin cleaning up the spill. Refugio State Beach was closed.
Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said the pipeline has been shut off, yet it’s not clear how much crude oil spilled into the water.
An emergency cleanup is underway along the coastline near Santa Barbara after an oil pipeline rupture caused 21,000 gallons leaking into the ocean for three hours before the pipeline was shut off.
Richard Abrams, emergency manager for Santa Barbara County, said the Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Santa Barbara County were assisting on the clean-up.
"We haven't seen any reports of impacts on wildlife but it is in the water so it is impacting the environment," Abrams said.
Plains said it shut down the flow of oil in the pipeline after the rupture and initiated its emergency response procedures.
"Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all involve," the company said in a statement.
A similar accident happened on the same line of coastline in 1969 which is seen as the largest ever on U.S. waters and is thought to given rise to the American environmental movement. In the incident, several hundred thousand gallons spilled from a rupture on an oil platform, killing thousands of seabirds and many marine mammals.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, hailed as the worst oil spill in recent American history, was estimated by government officials at 4.9 million barrels, equal to 200 million gallons.