Report: Oil from Santa Barbara spill spread to Redondo Beach, gushed like hose ‘without a nozzle’

June 26, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A petroleum pipeline company said Friday that oil from a Santa Barbara, California, spill spread more than 100 miles to Los Angeles County beaches.

Plains All American Pipeline said that oil from its pipeline was found as far away as Redondo Beach.

The Houston-based company and state officials said earlier in the week that oil from the May 19 spill had reached Manhattan Beach, two miles north of Redondo.

Federal regulators and prosecutors are investigating the spill of up to 101,000 gallons of crude oil along the scenic shore. The reports confirm suspicions that the pipe was the source of tar that washed ashore in Los Angeles about a week after the spill.

Some of the tar came from other sources, such as natural seeps from the ocean floor, the company said.

At a state legislative hearing, Janet Wolf, chair of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, complained about the scarcity of information on the spread of the oil. Her staff was repeatedly frustrated trying to gather details on the test results from officials leading the spill response and cleanup, she said.

“After being told … that we first could get the results, then we were told we couldn’t get the results, here they are published and no one in our staff … knew about these results coming out,” Wolf said, referring to the information released Friday by the company.

“There is a breakdown in communication,” she said at the hearing in Santa Barbara.

However, firefighters investigating a reported petroleum stench at a California beach last month didn’t take long to find a spill — oil was spreading across the sand and into the surf. Tracing the source, they found crude gushing from a bluff like a fire hose “without a nozzle,” records show.

But critical time would elapse before the operator of a nearby pipeline confirmed that it had ruptured and spewed the oil. An employee at the scene for Plains All American Pipeline initially suggested to firefighters that the spill “was too big to be from their pipeline,” according to the documents obtained by The Associated Press.