Update on Oil Spill at Refugio State Beach

The following is an advisory from Pam Lombardo, UCSB Acting Associate Vice Chancellor, Administrative Services, emailed to the campus community on May 21, 2015:

We are writing to update our community on the most recent news concerning the spill and the efforts to contain and clean up the oil and to share links to additional information.

The U.S. Coast Guard working with federal, state and local agencies continues to oversee the response efforts and has set up an Emergency Operations Center in Santa Barbara County facilities. A website (http://www.refugioresponse.com/) has been created where official updates will be posted. University administrative personnel are participating and assisting in the coordination of the response and many of our researchers are assisting with the monitoring and response efforts.

Early today, the City of Goleta announced that the City is restricting access to beaches northwest of our campus to keep access open for responders and clean-up crews. Refugio and El Capitan beaches, which yesterday were closed by County Public Health officials, remain closed.

To ensure access to official responders and to protect wildlife, UC Santa Barbara is temporarily closing access to the area around Coal Oil Point until further notice. We will continue to monitor the spill and may need to restrict access to or close additional beaches based on the movement of the oil.

The Coast Guard is directing questions related to volunteering to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (). Note that the CDFW is NOT requesting the public’s assistance to help with oil spill response operations at this time. They are working with the University of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network’s staff and pre-trained volunteers, and the CDFW’s Natural Resource volunteers for oiled animal recovery and transport. They ask that people refrain from picking up oiled wildlife, as doing so can cause more harm than good. They advise that the best way to assist is to report oiled wildlife by calling 877-UCD-OWCN (823-6926).

We will continue to share any campus-related updates as appropriate.

More information and updates about the spill can be found at the following links:

  • Oil Spill Operations Center – http://www.refugioresponse.com/
  • California Fish and Wildlife: Spill Watch –
  • US Coast Guard –
  • Santa Barbara County, Office of Emergency Management –
  • Santa Barbara County public health information related to the spill –
Image 1 for article titled "Update on Oil Spill at Refugio State Beach"
The Refugio Oil Spill was an oil spill that occurred just north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California on May 19, 2015. According to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, the spill was caused by a buried Plains All American Pipeline pipeline that ruptured. Preliminary reports estimated the amount of oil spilled to be approximately 21,000 U.S. gallons (500 barrels). This estimate was later revised to over 105,000 U.S. gallons (2,500 barrels). More than 20,000 U.S. gallons (480 barrels) of crude oil is estimated to have spilled into the ocean. Despite being much smaller in scale, environmentalists claim this accident may have more severe consequences on the coastal ecosystem than the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, as it affected the Gaviota coast, a region with a Mediterranean climate considered unique for its biodiversity (Wikpedia: Refugio Oil Spill as of May 22, 2015. NB: Information may change rapidly as the event progresses, and initial news reports may be unreliable.)

Image 2 for article titled "Update on Oil Spill at Refugio State Beach"
Crude oil washes up on Refugio State Beach. Ibid.

Image 3 for article titled "Update on Oil Spill at Refugio State Beach"
Authorities were responding to an apparent oil slick in the ocean off Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County on May 19, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)