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Science & Environment

Calif. Gov. Brown Declares State Of Emergency To Aid In Oil Spill Clean Up

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We are tracking an environmental disaster this morning. It's unfolding here in California up the coast from our studios in Culver City. An oil pipeline ruptured, and it's feared that tens of thousands of gallons poured into the Pacific near Santa Barbara. An oil sheen has spread over 9 miles of ocean. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: The leak has been stopped, and crews are now working around the clock to clean up once-pristine oil-strewn beaches. Here where I'm standing at the state park just by where the spilled happened, the smell of oil is hanging thick in the air and watching brown waves crashing on the beach. Emergency crews here have set up several booms to try to contain the oil, and at least three vessels have been trying to skim the oil off the water.

DARREN PALMER: We are sorry that this accidental release has happened, and we are bringing in all the resources at our disposal to respond.

SIEGLER: Darren Palmer is with Plains All American Pipeline, the Texas-based company that owns the pipeline. It was installed more than two decades ago, and Palmer says it had its last inspection just a few weeks ago. At the time of the spill, it was moving more than 50,000 gallons of oil an hour. The extent of the environmental damage here is still being assessed, but the worst is feared. Mark Crossland is a warden with the California Department of Fish and Game.

MARK CROSSLAND: Every effort will be made to minimize the damage to the environment, including taking care of oiled wildlife. Resources at risk include environmentally sensitive shorelines, seabirds, marine mammals and kelp beds.

SIEGLER: Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency, freeing up money for aid and more environmental response teams. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Santa Barbara. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.