On May 19, 2015, an underground pipeline (Line 901) ruptured on the Gaviota Coast, west of Refugio Beach State Park, causing the release of crude oil onto area beaches and into the Pacific Ocean. Emergency response operations were immediately initiated under the direction of a Unified Command led by the United States Coast Guard and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the responsible party, Plains All American Pipeline.
On May 21, 2015, the City authorized emergency response operations pursuant to the City's Article II Coastal Zoning Ordinance Section 35-171. The authorization allows for emergency response activities and environmental monitoring within the City's permit jurisdiction (landward of the Mean High Tide Line). This includes sandy beach and areas of the rocky shoreline and coastal bluffs as well as access, staging, and construction / remediation work. Daily monitoring of beach conditions continues as part of the emergency permit issued by the City. A copy of the emergency permit can be found here.
Assessing the ecological injuries and human use losses from the spill is the responsibility of state and federal trustee agencies. The process is known as the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA). City staff are working with the trustee agencies in the NRDA process. A copy of the Refugio Beach Oil Spill NRDA Update for November 2015 can be downloaded here. Additional information can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife page here.