Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America (Ocean Conservancy) | WILL THIS SPILL CHANGE ANYTHING? (Greenpeace)


Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America

California leads the nation in marine protection with the largest network of marine protected areas in the country. The Gaviota oil spill puts ten years of cooperation between fishermen and conservationists to protect the state’s crown jewels at risk.
Media Contact:
Greg Helms
Manager, Fish Conservation Program

May 20, 2015

Statement from Greg Helms, manager, Fish Conservation Program, and Santa Barbara-based marine protected area expert:

Santa Barbara, CA: “Yesterday’s crude oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara County, resulting from an inland pipeline break, is a reminder that oil and water don’t mix. California leads the nation in marine protection with the longest network of marine protected areas in the country. In the Gaviota Coast area with its world-class and irreplaceable marine life, the community has just completed years of work establishing four marine protected areas due to its very special nature. The currently four-mile long oil slick puts ten years of cooperation between fishermen and conservationists to protect the state’s marine crown jewels at risk. The threat that this oil spill poses to important locally harvested species like sea urchin, squid and lobster as well as marine mammals and seabirds, and the Naples Reef and Kashtayit State Marine Conservation Areas that serve as their feeding and breeding grounds concern us. The companies must be held fully accountable for the impacts of this spill. This spill is a wake-up call for us to look at how we as a state prioritize the different uses of our ocean and the risks associated with them."

Ocean Conservancy: Oil Spill Threatens the Galapagos of North America

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Yesterday afternoon, news spread of the latest oil-related tragedy to occur in the United States—an oil pipeline ruptured in Santa Barbara County in Central California, along the Refugio State Beach coastline. Though the pipeline was on land, it was found to be leaking into a culvert that eventually emptied into the ocean. By the time the pipeline was shut off, oil had been spilling into the sea for at least three hours.
Oil from a broken pipeline coats miles of the Pacific Ocean and shoreline near Goleta, Calif., May 20, 2015, after a 24-inch underground pipeline broke May 19th and leaked into a culvert leading to the ocean. Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline said an thousands of gallons of oil were released before the pipeline was shut down. Photos by Jonathan Alcorn/Greenpeace.
As of yesterday evening, officials claimed that an estimated 21,000 gallons had spilled into the ocean in an oil slick that was four miles wide. Unfortunately, as of this morning, the slick had spread to at least nine miles wide, as the winds and tides did what they do. And now, a new estimate says that up to 105,000 gallons of oil might have been spilled.
Refugio State Beach has been closed indefinitely. The area is a sensitive and important place for all kinds of species, including migratory whales and rare seabirds—and wildlife has already been affected. Though there is no estimate of how much wildlife has been impacted so far, things don’t look good.
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
The cleanup is painstaking work. There are several dozen workers outfitted in protective suits and helmets on the beach, shoveling up contaminated mud and rocks into plastic bags. It is made more arduous by having to take place both on shore and on the water, since the oil originated on land.
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
California Oil Spill
Greenpeace visited the site to survey the true damage and to share with the world the devastation to the Santa Barbara County coastline, and to communicate the dangers of fossil fuels so that we can transition to clean energy and prevent this from happening again.
California Oil Spill
Plains All American Pipeline, the company that owns the ruptured pipeline, has a history of spills. The company has apologized, with the district manager saying, “We’re sorry this accident has happened, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience to the community.”
This spill has not occurred in a vacuum. We can now add it to the sad history of oil-related spills and accidents that have happened the world over in the past years—including one that happened very near to this area in 1969, which spilled 3 million gallons of oil into the ocean.
As Annie Leonard, our Executive Director, has said, “Oil spills are never accidents. They are the direct result of substandard oversight of fossil fuel companies who put their profits above human and environmental impacts.” Each time a spill, oil train explosion, or some other disaster occurs, we look to our leaders to take responsibility to make change. So far they’ve demonstrated that they don’t have the courage to stand up to Big Oil.
We all hope that this oil spill will quickly be contained and cleaned up. But are we willing to keep taking chances for future accidents to occur? I can’t help but think of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s research that shows that there’s a 75% chance of an oil spill occurring in the Arctic if drilling takes place there. Even with that scary fact, the Obama administration has decided to give Shell the conditional go-ahead to drill. Let’s demand better from our President and other leaders before it’s too late.


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