Legislative panel to investigate Santa Barbara oil spill; plus, what a cleanup looks like

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Update 1:00 p.m.: California lawmakers form special committee

California lawmakers are forming a special legislative committee to investigate the state's largest coastal oil spill in 25 years.

It's the latest government response to a pipeline breach near Santa Barbara in May that caused up to 101,000 gallons of oil to spill, resulting in blackened beaches and an ocean slick.

Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a Select Committee on the Refugio Oil Spill will hold hearings to investigate how to avert similar incidents.

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, says the spill was an avoidable tragedy.

The panel headed by Santa Barbara Democratic Sen. Hannah Beth-Jackson will hold its first hearing later this month in Santa Barbara.

Jackson is also pushing legislation to increase the number of pipeline inspections and allow more boats to respond to future spills.

— AP

Update 12:25 p.m.: Shoreline 75 percent clean; plus, what cleanup work looks like

Three-quarters of the 96.5 miles of shoreline affected by the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are now clean, according to the latest update from the Refugio Response Joint Information Center.

Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique teams will keep monitoring the areas for oil and continue cleanup in other parts of the shoreline — including cobble and rock areas that require hand crews — until clean-up goals for all the areas are met. 

Click here for enlarged map. (Photo: Refugio Response)

Oil cleanup can be detailed, intensive work, with crews scouring through sand and even painstakingly removing the sticky muck from boulders using scrapers and wire brushes. The joint response team released a video showing what that work looks like.

Meanwhile, one lane in the southbound direction of the 101, west of Refugio Beach in Goleta, California, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for more than two weeks starting Tuesday because of heavy equipment used in the cleanup process.

As of Monday, responders have rescued 60 live birds and 46 live marine mammals. They’ve also recovered 158 dead birds and 85 dead marine mammals.

(Photo: Oiled Wildlife Care Network)

— Kristina Bravo

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