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 »

Ball of Confusion: Hall Canyon 1 Month On

It is almost one month since our most recent energy infrastructure foundering: Crimson Pipeline’s release of crude oil into the hills above the City of Ventura.  Lots of developments continue to burble up as we all try to figure out the next surprise.

Hall Canyon Spill

Yet another start of the summer and yet another pipeline break on the south coast.

Latest
  • 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 »

  • Tarring of Ventura

    Quick field observations (note: these are field postings & formatting, etc. may be off) Beach surveys in Ventura County on May 30 We are seeing tar ball strand lines as the high tide retreats this morning.   Intermixed in these tar lines are dead sand crabs/carapaces. Tar balls not evident near Hueneme Pier but many… Read more »

  • More Beaches Closed!

    Holy cow!  It has been a crazy day.  One of our teams sampling Haskell’s Beach (near the Bacara Resort) north Coal Oil Point was basically given the boot.  Various clean-up teams are now sweeping the beaches from El Capitan to Goleta and the Incident Command has now shut down public access to all of those beaches. This… Read more »