An estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil dumped into the ocean from a broken pipeline just off the central California coast before it was shut off on Tuesday, creating a spill stretching about 4 miles along the beach, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Santa Barbara County health officials have shut down Refugio State Beach, the central site of the spill, though many had abandoned the site already because of the foul smell.
That smell brought county firefighters to the beach earlier in the day to discover the spill.
“They found about a half-mile slick of dark, black crude oil in the ocean,” fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.
They traced the oil to the onshore pipeline that spilled into a culvert that ran under the U.S. 101 freeway and through a storm drain into the ocean.