Of all the oil pipelines in Santa Barbara County, only one of them doesn't have an automatic shut-off system. Surprise surprise! That pipeline had a leak that spilled over 100,000 gallons of crude oil in California last week (21,000 gallons of which went into the ocean at Refugio State Beach). Why was an exception made? Let's just say it involves legal loopholes to save a few bucks... And what's crazy is that the loophole exploited the fact that federal regulations don't require auto shut-off protection.
Federal regulators are investigating the cause of Tuesday's leak that spilled up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil from an underground pipe into a culvert and as much as 21,000 gallons into the ocean at Refugio State Beach. The spill killed untold numbers of fish, at least five pelicans and a sea lion. It also mired other wildlife, including an elephant seal, in the muck.
Hey federal government, how about fixing this gaping hole in pipeline safety? Requiring that all pipelines in the U.S. at least stop pumping when a leak is detected would certainly reduce the severity of spills, if not their number. We have the technology, why not use it? And while we're at it, I'm sure that the pipeline industry has created all kinds of other safety measures that could be standardized (I imagine that some have very sophisticated leak detection systems that can pinpoint automatically the location of a leak -- all pipelines should have them).
Meanwhile, cleanup is going on:
For more on what happened, check out TreeHugger Maggie's coverage. Here are a few of the tweets she highlighted:
The rocks here at El Refugio State beach are stained black with oil. Not as much oil on the beach as last night. pic.twitter.com/Pdza8MwzJi— Javier Panzar (@jpanzar) May 20, 2015