Monday, February 19 , 2018, 2:57 am | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

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Summerland Beach Reopened to Public After Oil Closure

Summerland Beach has been opened to the public again, Santa Barbara County Public Health officials announced Monday.

The beach had been closed since Friday because of a large volume of oil on the beach along with strong petroleum odors in the area, which public health officials said could cause adverse health effects.

On Monday, those impacts seemed to have lessened enough to open the beach again.

“Oil and odors have decreased due to tide activity and natural processes, thus immediate health concerns have diminished,” according to a statement from the Public Health Department.

The department-issued warnings remain in effect, saying people and animals should avoid exposure to crude oil compounds and strong odors.

County staff have been monitoring the beach on a daily basis and kept tabs on the quantity and nature of the oil and the presence of the odors since last week.

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District has also been working with the Public Health Department to assess conditions.

“The primary concern is first and foremost to protect public health,” Public Health said. 

Both agencies have taken water, sand and air samples for testing, but it could be several days before results are available.

The cause of the oil hasn’t been identified yet, though the department acknowledged that there are seeps and old oil wells in the area, either of which could be the cause.

It likely isn't connected to the May 19 oil spill near Refugio State Beach, which occurred about 28 miles west of Summerland Beach, officials have said. 

“Long-term analysis and evaluation will be required to make determinations as to the source of the increased oil and odors,” the statement said.  

“While the source of the oil will be important for developing long-term solutions, the Public Health Department and Air Pollution Control District will remain vigilant in timely posting of warnings and closures when there is a potential risk to public health.”

People should report any oil sighting immediately to the USCG National Response Center at 1.800.424.8802 or the California Office of Emergency Services at 1.800.852.7550.

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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