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Santa Barbara County Grants ExxonMobil Emergency Permit to Truck Oil from Storage Tanks

An emergency permit was granted to ExxonMobil Monday allowing the company to temporarily truck oil from a storage facility on the Gaviota Coast in southern Santa Barbara County.

ExxonMobil was granted the permit by Santa Barbara County planner Dianne Black, and the permit will allow the company to truck oil from storage tanks located in Las Flores Canyon to Santa Maria and Maricopa.

The decision is not subject to appeal.

The oil has been sitting in the storage tanks in the wake of the May 19 Refugio Oil Spill, when a Plains All American Pipeline ruptured and sent up to 141,000 gallons of crude oil onto the coastline and into the ocean. 

The ruptured Line 901 was found to be badly corroded, and authorities ordered Plains to also shut down Line 903, which carries processed crude oil north through Santa Barbara County to refineries in other areas.

Several companies used the impacted pipelines to move crude oil from offshore oil platforms to processing and refining facilities, including ExxonMobil, Venoco, Inc. and Freeport-McMoRan.

ExxonMobil applied for the emergency permit in early January.

A press release issued Monday from the County of Santa Barbara stated that the approval is limited to trucking about 425,000 barrels of oil that currently sit in two storage tanks at the ExxonMobil facility, “to mitigate the risks associated with long term storage of oil since the pipeline is expected to be inoperable for a prolonged period of time, in excess of at least six months.”

The emergency permit does not authorize refilling the tanks from any source, the statement said.

The oil company is expected to begin trucking operations within three weeks, following installation of minor truck loading improvements at the Las Flores Canyon facility, the release said.

“Trucking to empty the tanks is expected to take three to six months, with no more than 30 truck trips a day,” the county stated.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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