Santa Barbara oil spill: El Capitan State Beach to reopen as leak probe continues

Refugio State Beach, shown in photo, will remain closed, but El Capitan State Beach will soon be open to visitors.
Refugio State Beach, shown in photo, will remain closed, but El Capitan State Beach will soon be open to visitors. Screenshot courtesy of NBCLA

A popular Central California beach closed last month after a crude oil spill near Santa Barbara will reopen next week, state officials said Thursday.

El Capitan State Beach is about 3 miles east of the site where a pipeline ruptured May 19, releasing up to 101,000 gallons of oil. About 21,000 gallons flowed into the Pacific Ocean, creating a 9-mile slick on the water.

El Capitan State Beach will be reopen its gates on June 26, the California Department of Parks and Recreation said.

Refugio State Beach, which is adjacent to the pipeline break, will remain closed until at least July 9, officials said.

Operator Plains All American Pipeline has declined to discuss the cause of the break while it's being investigated by federal regulators. Preliminary information suggests that corrosion played a role.

Nearly 300 dead birds and marine mammals have been recovered in the area.

Meanwhile, federal regulators Thursday completed flushing the idled pipeline as part of the investigation. That should allow investigators to refine calculations of how much oil escaped from the breach in the pipe.

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