2 Years Ago Today

Two years ago today (about 18 hours after the initial release), our field teams were onsite at El Capitan State Beach monitoring sandy beach conditions just prior to the arrival of the spreading oil slick from the Plains All American Pipeline break’s epicenter at Refugio State Beach.  We’ve learned much over the ensuing two years… Read more »

Coaled Feet

This via our friends at Tulane’s TUWaterWays:   A proposed coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish is coming into conflict with the Coastal Master Plan, leading to questions about the future of a major restoration project in the Plan. In addition to the proposed terminal, the new facility, owned by Ram Terminals, would include a railroad… Read more »

Oral History of the 1969 SB Spill

To some, the impact of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill was environmental.  To be sure there was ecological harm all around (see any of my old lectures if you are curious about that).  But the bigger impacts were upon the burgeoning Environmental Movement, igniting of a generation of environmental activism, birthing a new paradigm/cultural… Read more »

Venoco Bankrupt

Wow!  Our venerable, longtime offshore and coastal oil and gas producer here in Ventura and Santa Barbara–Venoco–has shuttered operations and is entering bankruptcy.  On Monday (April 17, 2017), Venoco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. This was their second filing within the past year for Bankruptcy protection, but all… Read more »

BP’s Alaskan Well Blowout

British Petroleum’s (BP) oil and gas well on Alaska’s Northern Slope (formally the BPXA Flow Station 1 Drill Site 2 Well 3 Release) that blew out on Friday continues to spill petroleum.  The remoteness of the site translates into essentially all the info coming from BP (or via state authorities who are in turn passing… Read more »

River Spill

We are in southern Louisiana with my ESRM 492: Service Learning in New Orleans class.  Today we head down to lower Plaquemines Parish and it just so happens at 2am this morning we had a small spill of oil in the river.  Details are still flowing in and the Coast Guard are responding, but so… Read more »

Chennai Oil Spill

Our friends in India are battling a new oil spill that began in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 28, 2017.  The cargo ships BM Maple (UK flagged) and Dawn Kanchipuram (Indian flagged) collided about 4 km outside the mouth of Kamrajar Harbor, itself about 24 km north of Chennai Port, Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  The Dawn… Read more »

Ballooning Plastic

A few distinct, but unrelated experiences have brought the issue of plastic balloons in the ocean into frequent conversation this week. It began with last Saturday’s annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.  I happened to be out on Santa Cruz Island with my son’s Boy Scout Troop.  Our 30 scouts made quick work of the debris… Read more »

Ojai Oil Tank On Fire

A now more than 12 alarm fire erupted within the past hour in Ojai, California (in western Ventura County).  The incident was reported at 8:35 a.m. near Highway 150 and Topa Lane roughly here ( 34.438417°, -119.132719°): The incident was originally thought to be a burning oil derrick, but subsequent reports have clarified that it is instead a… Read more »

Rio’s Toxic Olympic Waters

Every two years the Olympic Games roll around and we are treated to endless commentary and an amazingly small amount of actual sport (at least on NBC Universal Channels that have a stranglehold on U.S. broadcasts via their $7.75 billion contract).  Outside of the NBC hype machine, we have seen a pattern in recent years of… Read more »

Latest
  • Exxon: Drive rather than Pipe

    One of the many policy consequences of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil was a strong regulator of oil drilling and transportation at the county level in Santa Barbara County.  Santa Barbara County’s Planning and Development Department’s powerful Energy Division is an amazingly strong office with a suite of powerful permitting and oversight tools across oil… Read more »

  • OpenROV Live Posting

    We will attempt to post info about our subsurface trials of our deposited oil surveys here today, assuming we have connectivity.  https://openexplorer.com/expedition/refugio/#post-3663017             

  • Ormond Beach Tar

      We sampled our two beach sites at Ormond Beach yesterday.  As with our beaches in west Ventura County, we found a generally light to moderate tarring along the strand line.  It was consistently patchy with the majority of the beach being only lightly tarred.  We did also detect an oily sheen within the sand… Read more »

  • It keeps coming…

    Now we are seeing additional tar balls in Long Beach (in southern Los Angeles County). This tarring pattern has become all too familiar.  We think we are done with the oil “rain,” then we get a highly patchy deposition event which tars beaches with moderate to light tar balls (and occasionally an oil sheen).  The… Read more »

  • Da Grunion be here!

    June 2nd and 3rd are the peak spawning days of the year for our California grunion in 2015.  These fish are laying eggs and sperm as I type this into some of our newly tarred high tide lines across SoCal.

  • Gearing up for ROV surveys

    We are prepping for our first subtidal surveys for tar/crude and to vett our newest OpenROV platforms for rapid spill surveys/response. For more details, please see our AARR blog.

  • Pathos And The Mounting Pressure To Do Something

    The media and public are apparently getting more and more worried about marine mammals and birds fouled or killed by oil spilled from the May 19 pipeline break.  At least part of this current worry can be traced to pictures that began showing up on Facebook late last week of heavily oiled dolphins (or at least… Read more »

  • KVTA Oil Spill Interview

    This was my brief interview at the KVTA (AM1590, Ventura’s News Talk Radio) studios.  The recording sound is not fantastic as it was recorded off the radio 50 miles away, but it conveys our most recent observations.  

  • Oil Seeps 101

    We have been getting lots of inquires about this crazy tarballing going on across Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties.  I thought I would give a quick overview of tar balls in our part of the world; the Southern California Bight. Oil Seeps In Our History Oil has been deep underground for millions of… Read more »

  • Grunion & Sand Crabs in harms way

    There are many critters particularly at risk with this oil spill.  While our historic worry/focus has been on our rocky intertidal communities and on warm fuzzies (such as these cute marine mammals and endangered sand-nesting birds), other critters are at risk too.  In particular the animals dwelling in the swash zone of our sandy beaches.  What I… Read more »