For the third time in under three months Santa Barbara County, California, officials are trying to find the source of toxic oil and tar balls that have again forced the closure of a popular state beach.
Susan Klein-Rothschild of the Santa Barbara Public Health Department said Saturday that strong petroleum odors and washed up oil on Summerland Beach have increased over the past few days.
The beach, located just south of Santa Barbara, will again become off-limits until state officials determine it's safe for public use.
It remains unclear when the beach will reopen or where the latest spill is coming from.
While the area has a history of natural oil seepage from the ocean floor there are also old oil wells in the area that can leak. There was also a spill from a newer well earlier this year.
Officials tentatively believe that the newest oil is not related to the May pipeline break about 30 miles away that sent thousands of gallons of crude oil out to the beach and ocean.