CBSN

Oil pipeline break dumps crude on California beach

GOLETA, Calif. -- Officials say a broken pipeline has spilled oil and created a slick about four miles wide in the ocean off the central California coast.

Capt. Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department says a pipeline on the land near Refugio State Beach broke Tuesday and spilled oil into a culvert that ran under the U.S. 101 freeway and into the ocean. The pipeline has been shut off, but it's not yet clear how much oil spilled.

The line is owned by Plains All-American Pipelines and the scene has been isolated. The pipe itself was an abandoned pipeline that still had oil inside, CBS News reported

Zaniboni says the initial slick was about 100 yards by a half-mile, but the U.S. Coast Guard says it has since spread to about four miles of coastline.

Zaniboni says firefighters responding to reports of the smell of gas on the beach found the thick, black slick and traced it to the pipeline.

The Coast Guard is estimating the oil spill at Refugio State Beach in California at about 500 barrels, or 21,000 gallons.

By comparison, the Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 was estimated at 100,000 barrels, or 4.2 million gallons.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico was estimated (by the government) at 4.9 million barrels, or more than 200 million gallons.