Santa Barbara Oil Spill May Be Larger Than Estimated

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August 5, 2015 — Over two months after an oil spill fouled beaches in Santa Barbara, California, the operator of the pipeline said the spill may have been 40% larger than they originally estimated.

Plains All-American Pipeline estimated that the May 19 spill released up to 101,000 gallons, of which only 21,000 made it into the ocean. But in documents released yesterday, the company said about 143,000 gallons may have spilled, according to the Associated Press.

The company said it is continuing its analysis and has hired an independent consultant to reconcile the differences.

State law requires oil companies to immediately notify response agencies about an oil spill. Plains All-American Pipeline waited 90 minutes after confirming the spill in Santa Barbara. Investigators found “extensive corrosion” on the pipeline. The company has also had 175 citations for safety and maintenance since 2006.

In a statement, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) accused federal pipeline safety regulators of “withholding information” from the American people and Congress.

He said the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) redacted Plains All-American Pipeline’s response plan for the Santa Barbara pipeline, which estimated the “worst-case scenario” spill at 167,000 gallons — only 24,000 gallons more than the newly-revised estimate.

 

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