Environment & Science

Santa Barbara oil spill: County could soon see influx of oil-trucking semis

Workers clean oil from the rocks and beach near Refugio State Beach in Goleta, California, May 22, 2015. The oil company behind a crude spill on the California coast vowed to do the
Workers clean oil from the rocks and beach near Refugio State Beach in Goleta, California, May 22, 2015. The oil company behind a crude spill on the California coast vowed to do the "right thing" to clear up the mess, even as reports emerged of past leaks involving its pipelines. Plains All American Pipeline made the pledge as it said nearly 8,000 gallons of oil had been scooped up, out of some 21,000 gallons believed to have flooded into the ocean near Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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Santa Barbara County officials are considering whether to grant ExxonMobil permission to transport oil by truck, weeks after a pipeline rupture stopped the flow of crude through the county.

Trucking oil through the county is prohibited as pipeline delivery is usually considered a safer method for transporting the material. The county allows for alternative delivery methods in case of emergency.

An environmental engineering and consulting company filed the emergency request on Thursday on behalf of ExxonMobil.

If granted permission, ExxonMobil would transport crude oil from a facility in Las Flores Canyon by truck until the pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline is reopened.

The application states that ExxonMobil has had to reduce oil production at the facility from 30,000 barrels to 10,000 barrels a day, because it hasn’t had a way to transport oil off the premises since the accident. Even so, it states that capacity at the facility will be reached within a month.

The application asks to be able to dispatch as many as eight trucks an hour 24 hours a day, with each truck carrying a load of more 160 barrels of oil. It also asks for the construction of four loading racks at the facility.

Dianne Black, assistant director of planning and development for the County of Santa Barbara, confirmed that she is reviewing the request and expects to make a decision within the week. One of the considerations is whether the current situation constitutes an emergency. 

Black said she is making the decision in place of the department’s director Glenn Russell, who recused himself, because he recently sold stock in ExxonMobil.