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DATE: February 5, 2016 10:16:42 PM PST

The Unified Command for the Refugio Incident used a phased approach to address the cleanup efforts from the Refugio Oil Spill, which occurred on May 19, 2015.  Phase 1 was the active clean up of oil from the affected water, shoreline, and soil. Phase 1 concluded on or around August 31, 2015.  Phase 2 required that the shoreline meet specific clean up goals.  When oil from the spill was discovered, it was cleaned up and the affected portion of shoreline was subjected to further monitoring.  Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Teams have been conducting ongoing evaluations of the affected beaches since the beginning of the response.  On January 22, 2016 it was determined that all beaches met all specific clean up goals for Phase 2. 

The final phase, Phase 3, is the monitoring phase.  The Unified Command required that affected beaches from Arroyo Hondo to Rincon Point continue to be monitored for buried oiled that could be uncovered through sand erosion, that periodic oil sampling is conducted throughout the Santa Barbara response areas, that any oil found along the affected shoreline is sampled after the first significant storm event, that clean-up objectives are set and implemented if pipeline oil is found, that progress is monitored in areas where scientists determine that further cleanup would do greater harm to the environment versus natural recovery process, and that a final oil sampling is conducted in May of 2016. 

In accordance with the Phase 3 monitoring plan, oil samples were collected from December 7-8, 2015 and again from January 25-26, 2016 after the first significant storm event.  For both sampling events, samples were obtained from 25 different locations.  The samples collected were split so that the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and Plains All American Pipeline, the Responsible Party, could independently test the samples.  All samples collected were compared to the Refugio Oil Spill source, Line 901 oil from the pipeline, and all samples analyzed in December and January yielded no match to the pipeline oil. Additional sampling will be conducted through May 2016.  If all samples analyzed through May 2016 show no match to the pipeline oil, the response operations will conclude.

U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response test results from December 2015 and January 2016 sampling are summarized here: Sample results from a four county sampling that occurred in July 2015 and were previously released are summarized here: The Plains All American Pipeline sampling results are consistent with both the federal and state results.


For more information contact:

Joint Information Center
(805) 770-3682