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Photos: A ruptured pipeline dumped 21,000 gallons of oil on the California coastline

Heather Timmons
By Heather Timmons

White House correspondent

Noozhawk/Lara Ann Cooper
The oil-soaked shoreline at Refugio Beach Campground.

Oil is washing ashore on beaches near Santa Barbara, California, after a nearby pipeline operated by Plains All-American Pipeline ruptured, spilling an estimated 21,000 gallons into the ocean.

Coast Guard officials said the spill stretches for about four miles. It was started when a pipeline that runs along highway 101 along the California coast ruptured at  some point on May 19. Patches of oil pooled in a nearby field before it flowed down towards the sea. Here’s an aerial view from local news station KTLA:

The oil washed ashore in a sandy bay near Refugio Beach Campground in the afternoon,  Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara area news website, reported.

An overhead picture from the US Coast Guard shows oil flowing into the ocean:

And officials photographed the oil washing up onto the rocky shore new the campground.

Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP
The oil slick, as viewed from the shore.

Campers were wading through the spill, trying to capture oil-covered wildlife, Noozhawk said.

Noozhawk/Lara Ann Cooper
Campers try to rescue an oil-covered bird on Refugio beach. It later swam back into the ocean.
Noozhawk/Lara Ann Cooper

Refugio beach and the adjoining campground were quickly closed. Santa Barbara officials warned that nearby El Capitan Beach may also be shut. Refugio is a popular camping spot, and was reportedly fully-booked for the coming Memorial Day weekend holiday.

Plains All-American has not yet commented on the spill.

A 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara that left a hundred-mile slick of crude is widely cited as one of the key events that gave rise to the US environmental movement.

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