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Friday, May 22, 2015

California Oil Spill Catastrophe Continues to Unfold

Exxon Valdez, Deep Water Horizon; two ecosystems destroyed, and now the California Pacific coast which will not recover for hundreds of years and all for "cheap gas" for Americans; so California residents - where are the cheap gas prices?      

CBC NEWS
05/21/2015

More than 29,000 litres of oil had been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from a spill that stretched across more than 14 kilometres of California coast in a cleanup effort that is now going 24 hours a day, officials said, but that's just some of the sticky, stinking goo that escaped from a broken pipeline.


An oil soaked cormorant gasps for air off the 
California coast
Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan McCormick says additional crew members and boats will be added to the cleanup effort Thursday along the Santa Barbara coast. Light winds and calm seas are predicted, which officials say help those assessing and collecting the oil. Workers with Plains All American, which runs the pipeline, and federal regulators hope to begin excavating the pipe Thursday and get their first look at the breach.

Investigators determined Wednesday, a day after the pipeline break, that up to 397,000 litres may have leaked out, and up to a fifth of that amount — 79,000 litres — reached the sea, according to estimates.


The leak occurred in an underground pipe that was carrying crude from an onshore facility toward refineries further down the chain of production. The oil spilled into a culvert running under a highway and into a storm drain that emptied into the ocean.

Workers in protective suits raked and shoveled the black sludge off the beaches, and boats towed booms into place to corral two slicks off the Santa Barbara coast.





The chief executive of Plains All American Pipeline LP was at the site of the spill Wednesday and apologized for it.

"We deeply, deeply regret that this incident has occurred at all," chairman and CEO Greg L. Armstrong said at a news conference. "We apologize for the damage that it's done to the wildlife and to the environment."


Spill stretches now for miles and is spreading, will impact
Monterrey, San Francisco Bay area
Armstrong said the company had received permission to continue cleanup operations around the clock and vowed that they "will remain here until everything has been restored to normal." Crude was flowing through the pipe at more than 206,000 litres an hour at the time of the leak Tuesday, the company said. 


Company officials didn't say how long it leaked before it was discovered and shut down, or discuss the rate at which oil escaped.

Federal regulators from the Department of Transportation, which oversees oil pipeline safety, investigated the leak's cause, the pipe's condition and the potential regulatory violations.


A dead pelican, one of what will become thousands of seabirds that will die from the spill

The 24-inch (61-centimetre) pipe built in 1991 had no previous problems and was thoroughly inspected in 2012, according to Plains. The pipe underwent similar tests about two weeks ago, though the results had not been analyzed yet.

Numerous Infractions

The Los Angeles Times reported that the company accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006, according to federal records. The infractions involved pump failure, equipment malfunction, pipeline corrosion and operator error. The paper said a Plains Pipeline spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its regulatory record.


Citizen responders desperately attempt to clean beaches as oil company personnel are nowhere to be seen

There was no estimate on the cost of the cleanup or how long it might take.

A combination of soiled beaches and pungent stench of petroleum caused state parks officials to close Refugio State Beach and El Capitan State Beach, both popular campgrounds west of Santa Barbara, over the Memorial Day weekend.




Still, tourists were drawn to pull off the Pacific Coast Highway to eye the disaster from overlooking bluffs.

"It smells like what they use to pave the roads," said Fan Yang, of Indianapolis, who was hoping to find cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara, about 32 kilometres away. "I'm sad for the birds — if they lose their habitat."




The early toll on wildlife included two oil-covered pelicans, said spokeswoman Melinda Greene. Biologists counted dead fish and crustaceans along sandy beaches and rocky shores.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife closed fishing and shellfish harvesting for 1.6 kilometres and west of Refugio beach and it deployed booms to protect the nesting and foraging habitat of the snowy plover and the least tern, both endangered shore birds.


The coastal area is habitat for seals, sea lions and whales, which are now migrating north through the area.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday night declared a state of emergency because of the spill, a move that frees up additional state funding and resources to help in the cleanup.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said her office, along with the state attorney general, is investigating the pipeline spill for possible criminal prosecution or a finding of civil liability.


Scene of Earlier Spill

The coastline was the scene of a much larger spill in 1969 — the largest in U.S. waters at the time — that is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.


Obama could give a shit about oil spills - so long as
prices remain sky-high and oil company bribes
keep flowing into his bank account
Environmental groups used the spill as a new opportunity to take a shot at fossil fuels and remind people of the area's notoriety with oil spills. "Big Oil comes with big risks — from drilling to delivery," said Bob Deans, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Santa Barbara learned that lesson over 40 years ago when offshore drilling led to disaster."

Large offshore rigs still dot the horizon off the coast, pumping crude to shore and small amounts of tar from natural seepage regularly show up on beaches.



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