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Being Mindful of those who are unable to speak for themselves; our Non-Two Legged Relations and the Future Generations.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 21, 2015

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 845-6703, 

Pipeline Owner in Santa Barbara 
Oil Spill Has Had 175 Spill Incidents Since 2006

The company that owns the pipeline involved in 
Tuesday’s major oil spill in Santa Barbara has had 
175 incidents (mostly oil spills) nationwide since 
2006, including 11 in California, according to a 
Center for Biological Diversity analysis of 
federal documents.

Oil on Santa Barbara beach
Photo of oil on Santa Barbara beach courtesy U.S. Coast Guard. This photo is available for media use.
Plains Pipeline (a subsidiary of Plains 
All-American Pipeline) has also had 
federal enforcement actions initiated 
against it 20 times since 2006 for its 
operations across the country, according 
to data from the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous 
Materials Safety Administration. Many of 
those cases involve corrosion control 
and maintenance problems on its pipelines, 
including two cases in 2009 for which 
the company was fined $115,600.

“This company’s disturbing record 
highlights oil production’s toxic threat 
to California’s coast,” said Miyoko 
Sakashita, the Center’s oceans program 
“Oil pipelines and offshore fracking and
drilling endanger our fragile marine 
ecosystems. Every new oil project increases 
the risk of fouled beaches and oil-soaked 
sea life.”

The ruptured oil pipeline near Refugio 
State Beach — a 24-inch wide, 11-mile 
long section carrying oil from offshore 
platforms and an Exxon Mobil processing 
plant onshore — leaked as much as 105,000 
gallons of crude oil, including 21,000 
gallons making it into the ocean, fouling 
about nine miles of coastal waters and beaches.

The broken pipeline was 28 years old and 
operated by a company that has been repeatedly 
warned by government regulators to improve its 
procedures and control corrosion for its pipelines. 
Plains Pipeline had five incidents in California in 
2014 alone, including the one that dumped oil 
into a Los Angeles neighborhood a year ago.

Hundreds of miles of oil pipelines run through 
California’s coastal areas, posing a serious 
threat of spills. A review released by the Center 
for Biological Diversity of federal data over the 
past 30 years shows that such oil spills from 
pipelines are a common and costly byproduct 
of oil production that has been rapidly 
increasing in the United States, including 

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned 
last year by the Center showed there have 
been nearly 8,000 serious pipeline breaks 
nationwide since 1986, causing more than 
2,300 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property 

The vast majority of those incidents have 
involved oil pipelines, spilling more than 2 
million barrels into waterways and on the 
ground. More than 35 percent of these incidents 
have been caused by corrosion or other 
spontaneous structural failures.

The Santa Barbara Channel is rich in biodiversity, 
including whales, dolphins and more than 500 
species of fish. Endangered blue whales often 
feed in the channel, and it is in the migration path 
for four other whales listed under the Endangered 
Species Act. Witnesses spotted sea lions and 
migrating whales in the coastal waters as the 
spill was taking place Tuesday.

The Santa Barbara County coastline was the site 
of an oil platform explosion in 1969 that spilled 
up to 100,000 barrels of oil.

“If we’re learned anything over the past 50 years, 
it’s that coastal oil production remains inherently 
dangerous to wildlife, local communities and 
health of the planet,” Sakashita said. 
“To protect our coast, we need to stop 
offshore drilling and fracking and quickly 
transition to cleaner energy sources.”

Offshore fracking has been used hundreds of 
times in recent years off California’s coast, and 
oil companies are also making increasing use of 
techniques like acidizing to coax oil from 
beneath the ocean.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, 
nonprofit conservation organization with more 
than 825,000 members and online activists 
dedicated to the protection of endangered 
species and wild places.

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