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

City of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara's Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant is approved to reopen after nearly 20 years of sitting idle. The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to spend $55 million in order to get the plant back into working order. 

Santa Barbara County Fire

San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Services now says an intense thunderstorm was responsible for Monday's oil spill near Cuyama off Highway 166. 

Jordan Bell

After nearly two months of clean up, Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County is re-opening up Friday.  A pipeline leak in May released some 21-thousand-gallons of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel.

Lisa Osborn, KCBX News

Refugio State Beach was cleared by California State Parks to reopen next Friday, July 17, 2015 at noon. 


A visual underwater survey of the Refugio oil spill site showed promising signs of recovery according to the group, Reef Watch California.

UPDATE: Evacuation order lifted, fire mostly contained

Jun 22, 2015

The Park Hill fire that burned 1800 acres just east of Santa Margarita this weekend is 60 percent contained.

Pipeline company releases tarball origin analysis

Jun 22, 2015
Jordan Bell

The origins of several tarballs collected on Southern California beaches late last month were confirmed Monday.

Plains All American Pipeline announced that they received a portion of the lab results analyzing tarballs found on beaches from Gaviota to San Clemente.

El Capitan State Beach to reopen Friday

Jun 22, 2015
California Department of Parks and Recreation

One of the beaches closed due to May's oil spill off the Santa Barbara County coast will reopen this week. The public will have access to El Capitan State Beach Friday.

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.