Environment

Reports focusing on the latest news and trends affecting the environment along California's Central Coast.

Clean-up efforts were underway Friday as crews worked to contain hundred of gallons of red diesel fuel in Buellton.

Santa Barbara County Fire says nine 55 gallon drums were abandoned on an unregistered trailer at the corner of Kendale Road and Odense Street. One of those drums had leaked its entire contents into a nearby storm drain. The other eight drums are said to be "somewhat compromised."

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says the diesel may have been stolen from an agricultural or industrial user.

Refugio Response Join Information Center

Officials with the Refugio oil spill command center said Friday that work to remove contaminated soil is gaining speed following the arival of a crane earlier in the week. 

Jordan Bell

The Plains All-American Pipeline reported Wednesday they are spending an estimated $3 million daily on clean up efforts.

They've already exceeded $60 million to clean up the Gaviota Coast.

According to Alexia Retallick of the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, the State of California will pursue response costs for federal, state and local agencies.

However, the federal government may take its own approach.

Refugio Response

As clean-up efforts continue off the Gaviota Coast, officials say no oily water has been recovered since last week.

  More than 14-thousand gallons of oily water has been recovered in total with the help of vessels skimming the water. The Environmental Unit is assessing the scene to determine what is natural seepage, and what is from this particular spill. 

Crews are also working to recover marine life.  Kelly Parker is with the coast guard and said that of the live birds they've collected, mostly brown pelicans have been admitted to a facility for care.

Lisa Osborn, KCBX News

Fishermen in Santa Barbara Harbor are still starting their motors to head out into the channel for the day's catch, despite being among the first to feel the economic punch of the Plains All-American Pipeline rupture back on May 19.

Lisa Osborn, KCBX News

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is investigating whether criminal activity was part of last month's oil spill on the Santa Barbara County coast. 

Flickr member Josh Mock

An ordinance banning polystyrene in San Luis Obispo passed unanimously at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. 

A key provision of the ban was modified just before the vote at the request of council. Most members of the City Council expressed some concern that a one year hardship exemption could be renewed. 

It allows businesses to opt-out if their costs to replace polystyrene containers exceeds 15 percent. Mayor Jan Marx said the 15 percent hardship should not be renewed for another year. 

U.S. Coast Guard District 11

Samples are being taken from tar balls showing up on beaches in Southern California to see if the oil could be coming from the pipeline spill in Santa Barbara County.

The LA County Public Health Department closed beaches Wednesday in the South Bay, including Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches, because of the oil. The beaches could open as soon as Friday.

NOAA says its working to track the Refugio spill's movement with help from scientists at UC Santa Barbara. David Valentine is a Professor of Earth Science at UCSB and says tracking this oil presents a unique challenge.

Jordan Bell

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County Wednesday to aid in cleaning efforts after an oil pipeline rupture at Refugio State Beach.

The ruptured pipeline could have released 105,000 gallons of crude oil into the water off the Santa Barbara County coastline. Crews are working, on and off the shores, to ensure safety and rehabilitate marine life. 

Map: Santa Barbara County Energy Division

Federal, state and local emergency crews were on the scene of a large oil spill along Santa Barbara County's South Coast Tuesday evening.

The US Coast Guard said Tuesday afternoon that the spill stretched roughly four miles in the area of Refugio State Beach.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services said Tuesday night that both the campground and beach areas were closed at Refugio. There was also a warning at El Capitan State Beach.

Central Coast residents concerned with protecting the area's coastal live oak trees are joining forces in the coming days to stop the spread of a serious disease. Sudden Oak Death (SOD) has been a problem in California for years, but now scientists have tools to track—and possibly slow—its spread.

Volunteers play a crucial role in this process, according to Lauren Brown, a trainer with the 2015 Spring SOD Blitz, a campaign aimed at mapping the location and status of trees throughout the state.

Paul Relis was a student at UC Santa Barbara during the massive 1969 oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel, and had a front-row seat to much of the public reaction that followed.

Relis went on to lead the Community Environmental Council, was an executive with the state EPA, and lectured for nearly two decades on Environmental Studies at his alma mater, UCSB.

You can hear Relis read from his recently published book, Out of the Wasteland, Thursday night, May 14 at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara starting at 7:00 p.m.

Rachael Williams

Star fish—or as biologists call them, sea stars—appear to be making a comeback along the West Coast. New scientific surveys show a large number of young stars in the coastal waters from the Monterey Bay up to the Washington coast. 

Sea stars have been suffering from a mass wasting disease in recent years. Die-offs like this have happend in the past, but have never been recorded at this magnitude and over such a wide geographic area, according to the UC Santa Cruz Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department.

Spencer Marley

Ray Richardson and other California commercial fishermen are ready to start this year's salmon season, only he faces a shorter window than last year.

"I'm putting the davits on, the gurdies on, and putting the trolling wire on. Then, go to get some ice, put the gear on, and go fishing," Richardson said.

Flickr member Doc Searls

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) is scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday to update guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions within the County. Specifically, the District is looking at pollution generated by business and industry.

The APCD's Molly Pearson said Wednesday that members will vote on one of two options for updated guidelines. The public will get a chance to speak prior to that vote.

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