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Santa Barbara Oil Spill: How to Help

A pipeline leaked up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil on May 19, officials say: "Even the volunteers must be trained and wearing proper protective equipment"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cleanup Continues After Santa Barbara Coast Oil Spill

    The cleanup off the coast of Refugio State Beach continues days after an oil spill flooded into the ocean. Gordon Tokumatsu reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 21, 2015. (Published Thursday, May 21, 2015)

    Nine miles of a Southern California state beach are slicked in a major oil spill that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared an emergency.

    But residents don't need to head to Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County to help clean up, or at least not yet. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is responding to the April 19 spill and is not requesting assistance from the public to clean up the thousands of gallons of oil that ended up in the water.

    "We urge the public to stay out of the affected areas...closed because of health hazards (due to) the crude in the water," Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said. "Even the volunteers must be trained and wearing proper protective equipment."

    Pre-trained volunteers are working with UC Davis's Oiled Wildlife care Network staff to clean and transport animals covered in oil from the spill, according to California's volunteer-organizing website.

    Instead, the state says people can best assist by reporting wildlife that's covered in oil to 1-877-UCD-OWCN (1-877-823-6926).

    Williams sought to manage the public's expectations of the water being quickly cleaned up -- a popular nearby beach, El Capitán State Beach, was closed indefinitely after the spill.

    "Cleanup doesn't occur overnight. It's a long process," Williams said.

    Officials say more than 7,700 gallons of oil has been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from the spill, a fraction of the crude that escaped from a broken pipeline.

    Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan McCormick said additional crew members and boats will be added to the cleanup effort Thursday along the Santa Barbara coast. And Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Michelle Rogow said Thursday that the cleanup would be moved to a 24/7 operation.

    About 21,000 gallons of crude oil were estimated to have made their way from the ruptured pipeline to the ocean, according to a fact sheet provided by the cleanup command. Up to 105,000 gallons of oil in total were released form the ruptured pipeline. Officials could update both estimates.

    More than 300 federal, state and local first responders people were taking part in the cleanup at Refugio State Beach as of Thursday, along with environmental cleanup contractors, Williams said.

    The U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing cleanup in connection with Plains All-American Pipeline, the company responsible for the pipeline to Southern California that ruptured Tuesday.

     

    "We're going to be here until it's returned back to the way it was," a Plains All-American Pipeline spokesman said Thursday.

    More on the oil spill:
    PHOTOS: Oil-slicked coast
    Plains All-American Pipeline's safety record
    State of Emergency Declared

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.