Oil Sheen Sighted off Santa Barbara County Coast

Santa Barbara County, CA – Santa Barbara County Fire received a report of a large oil sheen off the coast of Goleta Beach County Park yesterday, by two kayakers. County Fire arrived at the park shortly before 10 a.m. and identified a 50 to 60 foot long sheen of oil approximately 1000 feet from the shoreline. The County Office of Emergency Management also responded and notified the United States Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other state and federal agencies.

All County beach parks remain fully open for visitors. This includes both swimming and pier fishing at Goleta Beach.

As of this date, the County of Santa Barbara Director of Public Health, Dr. Takashi Wada, has determined that there is no immediate health and safety risk from the off-shore oil.

While all County beach parks remain open, the County Public Health Department cautions residents that there are potential health impacts from coming into contact with oil.

Initially described as measuring 60 feet wide, the sheen, by Wednesday evening, had stretched 3.5 miles long and half a mile wide, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Ryan Schmid said. As tides moved, the oil split into sections and covered only about one-third of the total area, he said.

The patch was seen floating near an oil platform owned by Venoco Inc., but the company denied that its platform was involved. That platform, known as Holly, was shut down in May, a company official said. Its pipeline was flushed of any oil and refilled with seawater.

Samples are currently being analyzed by various state and federal agencies to determine the source. The County will continue to assess this incident, monitor the presence of on and offshore oil, and determine if additional actions are necessary.After reviewing the substance, which was leaving balls of tar on the beach, U.S. Coast Guard officials determined it was too thin to be cleaned up using conventional methods.

The director of the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, Charlton Bonham, said Wednesday that the cleanup of the Refugio spill is ongoing, with about 14,000 gallons of oily water removed from the ocean.

Cleanup crews have responded to reports of tar balls as far away as Orange County, and one tar ball recovered in Manhattan Beach had the same oil “DNA” as the oil spilled at Refugio, he said.