U.S. Coast Guard officials said Thursday that a 2,500 barrel crude spill near Santa Barbara earlier this week could take months to clean up.
The spill, now estimated at about 105,000 gallons, was first detected by a bystander around noon on Tuesday at a Plains All American operated pipeline and was stopped by the Coast Guard around 3 p.m. the same day.
“It’s a long process. These types of things continue on, perhaps for months, to make sure the environment is restored to its original condition,” Coast Guard Captain Jennifer Williams told Reuters.
Houston-based Plains All American said it was able to shut the pipeline down about 30 minutes after detecting pressure irregularities and also blocked a nearby culvert to stop crude from escaping into the ocean.
Despite the rapid response, the spill polluted a four mile stretch of beach and created oil slicks that extend about nine miles along the coastline.
Local, state and federal agencies are coordinating their investigations and cleanup efforts.
No evacuations have been ordered.
An investigation by the LA Times found that Houston-based Plains All American has accrued 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006.
According to environmental groups and local officials, the spill could wind up being the area’s largest spill in over 40 years.