21,000-gal. California oil spill coats beaches

A ruptured pipeline near Santa Barbara leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil Tuesday, some of which flowed into the ocean and left a thick coat of black tar along the county’s pristine shores, authorities said.

The rupture, located along an 11-mile long underground pipe that’s part of a larger oil transport network bound for Kern County, was first reported about noon after a woman at Refugio State Beach in Goleta smelled the crude’s noxious fumes. Coast Guard crews stopped the leak by 3 p.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Andrea Anderson.

It’s unclear what caused the break in the pipeline.

After flowing from the pipeline, crude pooled in a culvert before spilling into the Pacific, where it created a four-mile-long sheen extending about 50 yards into the water. Officials said winds could send the oil another four miles south toward Isla Vista.

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Doug Stewart
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