The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the pipeline had worn away to just a 1/16 of an inch and there was a 6-inch opening near the bottom of the pipe.
Regulators also said the 10.6-mile pipeline had “extensive” external corrosion. The rupture occurred near a stretch of pipeline that had been repaired three times due to corrosion issues discovered in 2012.
Investigators also said that on the morning of the spill, the pipeline was shut down and restarted twice due to mechanical issues. However, it is still to early to determine whether that caused the pipeline to fail.
About 101,000 gallons of crude oil spewed into the ocean on May 19, creating a 9-mile slick in the ocean and blackening beaches. The beaches and campgrounds were evacuated and fishing was banned along Refugio State Beach.
US News reports that as of Tuesday, a total of 36 sea lions, 9 dolphins, and 87 birds have died. Another 32 sea lions, 6 elephant seals, and 58 birds were rescued and are being treated.
Plains All-American Pipeline, the company responsible for the oil spill in Santa Barbara, has shut down the pipeline indefinitely and cannot re-start it until testing is complete. Meanwhile, the company has been hit with a class action lawsuit by a commercial fisherman who is seeking economic compensation. He says the spill will cause decades of harm to the local environment and hurt the business community.