Federal officials are investigating the company at the center of the Santa Barbara oil spill, which has left more than 11 miles of coastline covered with an oil slick.
The Santa Barbara district attorney, Joyce Dudley, told Reuters her office was working with the federal government to determine the potential for criminal or civil prosecution against Plains All American Pipeline, the Texas-based company which owns the ruptured pipeline that has poured about 20,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific ocean.
The state attorney general, Kamala Harris, is working with the Santa Barbara district attorney’s office, other state officials and the federal government to investigate the incident and the actions of the company leading up to the spill.
“This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife,” Harris said in a statement. “My office is working closely with our state and federal partners on an investigation of this conduct to ensure we hold responsible parties accountable.”
Officials have recovered about 9,500 gallons of oil and water and response workers are digging up contaminated soil. More than 600 state personnel were at the scene on Friday.
Santa Barbara County said at least three pelicans, two sea lions and one dolphin had died. Scientists are caring for six injured brown pelicans and one injured elephant seal. There is no estimate yet on how many fish have been killed or injured by the spill. Scientists are bracing for long-term environmental damage to the coast.
Plains All American, meanwhile, said it could take months to determine the cause of the spill and remove the broken stretch of pipeline. Before the rupture on Tuesday, there had been mechanical problems on each side of the break in the pipeline.
The Houston-based oil company had racked up 175 federal safety and maintenance violations since 2006, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The federal agency has ordered Plains All American to analyze what caused the spill. Regulators also ordered the company to drain the broken pipe and conduct other maintenance before it can resume pumping oil through the pipeline.
Source: The Guardian