A “very large” oil slick was spotted along the coast of Santa Barbara, Southern California on Wednesday, with initial reports putting the spill at about two miles long and just yards away from where a May oil spill leaked 21,000 gallons of oil into the ocean, completely damaging the coast’s ecosystem.
The spill was first spotted off the beach in Goleta on Wednesday morning at around 10am. Santa Barbara County Fire department reported being alerted by calls from people complaining about the smell of oil along the coastline near the University of California.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find two kayakers coming ashore with their feet and boat covered in oil.
Immediately, a marine safety team was dispatched to investigate the cause of the oil leak. No clear indication has been given of its source.
Petty Officer 1st class Sondra-Kay Kneen said of the investigations, “I’m not sure when we’ll find out.”
Initial aerial photos of the slick showed it floating close to Santa Barbara’s Platform Holly oil facility. Officials from Venoco Inc., which operates the facility have refuted any incidents at their facility.
According to officials, the platform was shut down and there was no oil in its pipeline. Zach Shulman, company director for corporate finance and investor relations said, “Absent another source, the sheen is most likely due to natural seepage, which can vary from day-to-day.”
Earlier this year on May 19, an onshore pipeline burst open, releasing 100,000 gallons of pure crude, 21,000 gallons of which leaked into the ocean. The resulting environmental impact was nerve wracking.
The entire coast line reeked of oil, beaches and campgrounds were closed, commercial fishing was banned and nearly 300 aquatic mammals and birds died. It would be weeks before the oil could be cleared.
Clean up costs for the spill were estimated at $92 million. Refugio, one of the hardest hit beaches, reopened only two weeks ago.
Officer Kneen, in clarifying the extent of the current sheen, reported that it had not come ashore. She also added that it would clear naturally as it wasn’t “thick enough to scoop up.”
Oil slicks around the Santa Barbara coastline occur frequently. The region is blessed with abundant reserves of offshore oil, making it prone to the environmentally degrading seepages. Operations along the town’ coastline continue uninhibited as a report on the cause of the seepage is awaited.