(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — Two days after a ruptured pipeline leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil off the California shore, wildlife — including pelicans — have been found coated in oil on the beach.
At least one bird was found dead even as teams from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife combed the area looking for injured animals. According to the department at least 272 people are taking part in the clean-up effort.
On Facebook the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response said they have sent at least five pelicans to rehabilitation centers.
The oil leak was first reported around noon on Tuesday in southern California. The pipeline was built in 1991 by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil.
“Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact,” the company said in an earlier statement.
A day after the spill, oil could be seen on nearly every rock in Refugio as crews worked to clean up the area. Further south along the coast, one beach was nearly covered with crude oil Wednesday before it apparently was washed to sea before Thursday morning. The pungent crude oil smell lingered in the area as crew members in white suits worked on Rufugio beach to clean the area.
The Refugio state beach is often packed with campers during Memorial Day weekend, but will now be closed indefinitely as crews operate to clean that beach and other coastlines.
Officials said there’s a potential that far more oil leaked into the Pacific ocean through the faulty pipeline with a worst case scenario at 105,000 gallons.
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