As if we needed another reason to turn to alternative fuels with the enormous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico still lingering due to BP Oil’s refusal to clean up their mess, pictures have come in from the oil pipeline rupture near Santa Barbara that initially sent 21,000 gallons (of a total 101,000 gallons released) of crude oil into the Pacific Coast waters – an incident that happened in late May.
Buckets and buckets of crude oil were removed by volunteers from Refugio State Beach, many of them without proper clean up gear.
The pipeline is owned by Plains All American, and a remote employee noticed an abnormality in the flow a couple weeks ago before the eventual damage ensued. Estimates are that more than 105,000 gallons of oil have already spilled, and there is still no answer as to how the rupture occurred.
Only a portion of the total spill reached the ocean, but an oil sheen was observable on over nine miles of ocean almost immediately following the compromise of the pipeline.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife have also responded, but much like the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is dirty and difficult work to clean an ocean that has thousands of gallons of petroleum introduced into it.
Not only is an oil spill of this magnitude an enormous environmental problem, but it also affects the ecosystem and food supply down to the most microscopic levels. Mammals ingest the oil, birds feathers are coated with it, as are sea turtles. Fish and sea corals begin to die off, and even the micro plankton are affected.
Oil that does not get removed from the ocean washes to shore affecting the beaches and surrounding areas for years to come.
With solar and wind power, there are no oil spills. It’s time to reconsider our energy future.
Featured image credit: (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)