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California Oil Spill

In this file photo from May, two cleanup crew members work to remove oil from the sand along a portion of soiled coastline near Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif. Oil spilled from a pipeline resulted in the cleanup efforts at the onshore site and along several miles of California coastline. 

Submerged oil resulting from a May spill at Refugio Beach is still a concern for Santa Barbara County's emergency management team, which has recommended that the Board of Supervisors keep a proclamation of local emergency intact.

“We’re still in phase three, which is maintenance and monitoring,” said Ryan Rockabrand, director of emergency management for the county. “We have a team doing assessments looking for submerged oil that has been buried.”

Specifically, the team is monitoring the location where the oil entered the water, said Terri Nisich, assistant county executive officer.

“We’re looking for any re-emerging oil from the sand or land,” she said.

The emergency management team has a plan in place to continue to monitor the situation until May 2016. After that date, officials are likely to reassess the situation, as the region could have experienced a “significant storm," which could bring up submerged oil. 

“If we don’t have one, (monitoring) will continue beyond May 2016,” Rockabrand said.

The Refugio Beach spill is estimated to have released 150,000 gallons of oil into the water, of which 21,000 gallons entered the Pacific Ocean, Rockabrand said. The federal government is expected to release its final numbers after officials have concluded their investigation.

Joe Sirard, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said that a decent amount of rain with guests around 25 to 40 miles per hour, could be considered "significant."

At its Tuesday meeting, the board will also consider:

  • Keeping a drought proclamation in place, as conditions are in “extreme peril,” according to a county resolution. California’s largest reservoirs now have very low water levels and its major river systems have significantly reduced water flows, according to county staff. Locally, the water level of Lake Cachuma has dropped to less than 20 percent of capacity. 
  • Approving and authorizing a $142,522 allocation to the Santa Maria Emergency Shelter, along with a $108,095 allotment to the Bridgehouse Shelter near Lompoc. Both shelters are operated by Good Samaritan Shelter and are expected to be funded until June 30, 2016.
  • An agreement with People Assisting The Homeless to support and maintain service levels at the PATH Santa Barbara Emergency Shelter. The agreement is not to exceed $94,383.
  • Authorizing $100,000 in inspector of record services for the Cuyama Aquatics Complex reconstruction project.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Santa Barbara.

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Kenny Lindberg covers Santa Barbara County for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter.  


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