The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has determined in its preliminary report issued this week that external pipeline corrosion was the root cause of the devastating 19 May 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill, spoiling miles of coastline more than 100 miles away on Los Angeles beaches.
Plains All American was the operator of two major pipeline sections: one 24-inch diameter pipeline that extends approximately 10.7 miles from the Las Flores Pump Station to the Gaviota Pump Station; the other a 30-inch diameter pipeline that extends approximately 128 miles from the Gaviota Station to the Emidio Station in Santa Barbara County.
PHMSA says that the spill occurred in a two-foot section of pipe after pumps were shut down and restarted. The volume of oil moving through the pipe surged, and pressure increased when the pump was restarted.
The report notes the Plains All American Pipeline spill was greater than previously estimated, dumping more than 140,000 gallons of crude. Previous estimates were as low as 100,000 gallons.