Oil leak estimate increased five folds in California spill

Cleanup efforts continue in Pacific after California oil leak, estimated amount increased five folds

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Cleanup crews worked through Wednesday to scoop up an oil spill at a California beach near Santa Barbara while the oil threatens wildlife as it spreads across 15 km into the ocean.

Authorities increased their initial estimate of 21,000 gallons (79,000 litres) of leak to a significantly higher 105,000 gallons (397,000 litres) as federal investigators started to look for the reason behind it.

The 24-inch-wide pipeline that runs parallel to coastal highway ruptured on Tuesday, leaking crude oil down a canyon, under a culvert and out onto a pristine 4-mile stretch of Refugio State Beach and into the water, US Coast Guard officials said.

The line is owned by Plains All American Pipelines.

Wildlife teams were working to rescue any sea birds, marine mammals and other animals injured by the spill.

The early toll on wildlife included two oil-covered pelicans as biologists were seen counting dead fish and crustaceans along sandy beaches and rocky shores.

Local authorities closed several shore campsites to public over the Memorial day weekend because of the contamination.

At the time of the incident, oil was flowing at a speed of 84,000 gallons (317,000 liters) an hour, and it took company about three hours to shut it down after they realised it, but the company did not say for how long it spilled before they noticed it.

Nine vessels are used in the cleanup efforts as the crew tried to clear the sea surface and the shore.

TRTWorld and agencies