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Local News

Volunteers Can Now Help With Refugio Oil-Spill Response

Training sessions scheduled for dealing with hazardous materials

Volunteers are finally getting their chance to help clean up oil and tar on local beaches that resulted from the May 19 rupture of a crude-oil pipeline near Refugio State Beach.
Volunteers are finally getting their chance to help clean up oil and tar on local beaches that resulted from the May 19 rupture of a crude-oil pipeline near Refugio State Beach. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

After being held at bay for nearly a week for safety reasons, volunteers are now being accepted to help with the Refugio oil spill clean-up efforts.

There will be several local training sessions this week to get people prepared for the hazardous-materials environment on the affected beaches west of Goleta and Santa Barbara.

The unified command handling the oil spill have turned away volunteers in the past week, not wanting people to head out on their own, but are now using trained members of the public to help, including the Santa Barbara County Community Emergency Response Team, California Conservation Corps, local fire hand crews, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Natural Resource Volunteer Program. 

The May 19 spill from a crude oil pipeline sent an estimated 21,000 gallons into the ocean near Refugio State Beach and could have leaked a total of 105,000 gallons, with the majority of the spill on land, according to the company responsible, Plains All American Pipeline.

A multi-agency response effort has resulted in thousands of gallons skimmed off the ocean surface and scooped off the beaches of the Gaviota Coast.

The state, County of Santa Barbara and City of Goleta declared states of emergency in response to the spill, which has resulted in closures of campground and day-use areas at both Refugio and El Capitan state beaches.

Oil from the spill has not appeared to hit beaches southeast of El Capitan, which is about 10 miles east of Goleta, but oiled wildlife have been found outside the area, officials said.

Volunteers from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network have been working with OSPR to collect and help oil-impacted wildlife, and people are asked to report any oiled animals to 1.877.823.6926.

People who want to help with the clean-up efforts must be 18 years old and can register for trainings and assignments here. Only registered volunteers can participate in the trainings, according to authorities in the incident's unified command.  

The following trainings are currently scheduled, with more information available on the CalSpillWatch website. There is also a volunteer hotline activated at 1.800.228.4544. 

Hazard Safety Communication Training: 

Monday, May 25, from 1-5 p.m. 100 slots open. 

Thursday, May 28, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., both sessions have 100 slots open. 

Beach Cleanup: 

Wednesday, May 27, from 1-5 p.m.  

Saturday, May 30, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. 

Sunday, May 31, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. 

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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