First look at new pipeline at spill release sight - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

First look at new pipeline at spill release sight

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The pipeline that burst just north of Refugio State Beach, spilling thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean and onto beaches, is now gone. In its place is a new pipeline that was installed this weekend.

For the first time since the spill, KSBY was allowed to speak one-on-one with Plains All American Pipeline executives. Senior Director of Operations, Rick McMichael, gave KSBY a tour of the new pipeline.

"The affected pipe has been removed and taken to a third party laboratory for testing," McMichael said.

The cause of the spill is still under investigation. KSBY asked McMichael if he could guarantee that the new line would not have the same problem as the previous one.

"I don't know that I can say that," McMichael said. "But although we continue to improve, technology continues to improve, the way pipe is built continues to improve."

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reports Plains has had 175 incidents, spilled more than 680,000 gallons of hazardous liquids and caused more than $23 million dollars worth of property damages since 2006.

KSBY asked McMichael about his company's tarnished safety record Sunday.

"We are committed to operating a safe pipeline," McMichael told KSBY. "We consider ourselves a very competent, safe operator."

There is no oil flowing through the new pipeline yet. Plains All American Pipeline is working under the oversight of PHMSA, who will decide when it is safe to start pumping oil through the new line.

The new pipeline will be buried once scientists have determined that the land is free of oil remnants and other potential toxins.
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