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
  • 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 »

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    PIRatE Lab Tour

    Here is a quick tour of our PIRatE Lab’s lab.  We have been getting several requests about our lab and decided to give you a sense of our set-up.     We’ve also had lots of questions about oil; what it looks like, what it smells like, and how sticky it is.  We have posted our… Read more »

  • Struggle to Check Seafloor Around CA’s Oil Spill

    When we see videos like this from the Coast Guard: It is easy to take away the impression that things are all good with regards to formal response to this (or any) oil spill.  The reality is these clean-up things are vastly complex endeavors, complicated by numerous laws and guidelines and overlapping responsibilities or jurisdictions…. Read more »

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    Week 1: The oiling so far

    Monitoring the Oil As the clean-up progresses, so does our monitoring.  We now have sampled an array of sites that span the region of potential impact (Gaviota to downtown Santa Barbara) and the range of observed intensity of oiling.  We are now beginning to shift gears a bit to have some of our crew focus… Read more »

  • Feds order pipeline company to clean up SB coastline & Investors React

    Federal authorities on Wednesday issued a cleanup order to the company whose underground pipeline last week spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean and marred several miles of Santa Barbara County coastline. “Our action today is to make sure the oil response work continues until the Santa Barbara County coastline is… Read more »

  • Students in the News

    Great to see more stories focusing on our students and their dedicated efforts as the getting out into the regular coverage of spill impacts.  The two most recent of these featured some of our field sampling over the weekend.  Many of the students in our field crews have been canceling things right and left.  This spill… Read more »

  • Holiday or no…

    Our teams are mustering for another field day of monitoring the ecological and social impacts of this spill. Much of the genesis of our current Sandy Beach work is grounded in our efforts to bring folks into field science who would not otherwise be engaged in a so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) discipline…. Read more »

  • The worth of our Beaches

    Sandy Beaches are everything to us here in Southern California, a central pillar of both our cultural identity and economic engine.  They are where we birthed surf culture (on beaches like Huntington and Surfrider), invented beach volleyball (on beaches like Manhattan Beach and Redondo), trained our young people to fight the axis powers of WWII… Read more »

  • Oil at Coal Oil Point: Pipeline or Seep?

        The University of California’s Natural Reserve System (NRS) is an incredible network of protected areas spanning the state of California.  These areas provide much needed spaces wherein researchers can study California ecosystems minimally impacted (and yes, I know that is a relative term) by our voracious appetite to burn, pave, and manipulate all we… Read more »