30 July 2015, News Wires – The US Coast Guard is investigating a mysterious oil sheen in the Pacific Ocean, the second hydrocarbon release to hit the California coast in recent months.
The slick is about three square miles wide and was about a mile off the coast of Santa Barbara County, near the site of a major pipeline spill in May. The latest sheen was spotted off Goleta State Beach.
The two incidents do not appear to related and Plains All American, the pipeline operator responsible for the May spill, has denied any responsibility for the sheen reported on Wednesday morning.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman described the new sheen as “thin”. The substance is expected to dissipate from the water on its own, according to reports. Local emergency responders have hesitated to call it an oil spill.
The agency was conducting a second aerial flyover on Thursday morning. There have been no public health warnings and, unlike the May spill, no beaches have been closed.
A source for the sheen has not been identified. The Santa Barbara Channel is home to many offshore oil platforms. Companies that operate those platforms – including Chevron, ExxonMobil and privately-held Venoco – have all said there facilities were not to blame.
The Centre for Biological Diversity did not hesitate to call it an “oil sheen” and called for a halt to offshore oil production in California.
“This new oil slick is another disturbing reminder of the ugly risks of offshore drilling,” said Kristen Monsell. “We’ll see spill after spill if we don’t shut down these aging oil platforms and pipelines.”
An investigation is still ongoing into the cause of the Plains spill, which released as much as 2400 barrels of crude onto a pristine beach and into the Pacific. Plains has already spent more than $92 million cleaning up that spill.