105,000 Gallons of Oil May Have Spilled in Santa Barbara County
The operator of an underground pipeline that ruptured and released up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil in Santa Barbara County — and tens of thousands of gallons into the ocean — said Wednesday that the spill happened after a series of mechanical problems caused the line to be shut down.
The problems began about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at two pump stations that move oil through the 11-mile pipeline along the Gaviota Coast, Rick McMichael, director of pipeline operations for Plains All American Pipeline, said at a news conference.
The company said its estimate of 105,000 gallons spilled west of Santa Barbara is a worst-case scenario that was based on the line’s elevation and flow rate — which averages about 50,400 gallons an hour.
Investigators won’t find a cause for the rupture until they excavate the 24-inch wide line, which was installed in 1987, according to a joint statement from government and company officials.