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Cleanup work continues at Refugio State Beach following oil spil - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Cleanup work continues at Refugio State Beach following oil spill

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 It has been a full week since the oil spill at Refugio State Beach along the south coast of Santa Barbara County.

The latest information about the pipeline that caused upwards of 101,000 gallons to spill was released late Tuesday afternoon. 

The pipeline company says it still doesn't know what caused the spill.

Workers were supposed to uncover the pipeline Tuesday, but had not yet done so by late that afternoon.

The section of pipe is scheduled for removal Wednesday, and that's when we should know more about what caused the rupture. 

Plains All American started excavating at the end of last week.

The pipeline is buried four feet underground, which is within regulations, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Rick McMichael with Plains All American talked more about the shut off valves Tuesday.

He said they have one valve that will automatically shut off if it detects an issue with flow, and then three more valves that are remotely controlled and can be shut down from a control room.

Plains did say that the results from an inspection two weeks before the pipe burst did come back and did not show the site of the pipeline rupture as one of the areas where there could be an issue, but it did show four other locations that needed to be checked out.

Plains isn't saying where yet, but they say they're not near the break.

As for cleanup efforts, boats were out skimming oil off the ocean Tuesday, and on-shore crews were again at Refugio State Beach bagging oily sand. 

The rocks were still splattered with oil and officials say they'll be cleaned in the next phase.

Wildlife rescue crews netted an oiled bird at Refugio Tuesday afternoon. 

So far, crews have found 25 live oiled birds and 13 dead, and 18 live oiled mammals and 8 dead.

The timeline on the results of the investigation is weeks or maybe even months.

After workers remove the ruptured part of the pipeline Wednesday, Plains will send it to an independent investigator to look at the pipeline, the condition of the metal, to see what may have happened.

Figuring out how the spill happened may take much longer than cleanup efforts, but the beach is looking better and better every day.

As of Tuesday, workers have removed more than 2,600 cubic yards of contaminated soil. 

Cleanup volunteers are currently being trained.

For information on how to help, click here.
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