HUNTINGTON BEACH ( — As emergency crews work to clean up thousands of gallons of crude oil near Santa Barbara, critics of offshore drilling say they’re concerned about the safety of pipelines that run up and down the coast.

“No oil production in the ocean,” Garry Brown said has been his goal for nearly two decades.

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Brown, the president and founder of Orange County Coastkeeper, hopes Tuesday’s spill off Refugio State Beach will motivate oil companies to shut down the 27 rigs along the California coast.

“We’re working with the industry to come up with ways they can remove them quicker and sooner than later,” he said.

Brown remembers Santa Barbara’s oil spill of 1969, when a pipe burst, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean.

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“What a lot of this oil infrastructure was allowed to be put in the ’60s, in the ’70s, there were very few controls,” he said.

The spill of 1969 triggered historic environmental change, and Brown says he’s hoping Tuesday’s spill will be the final nail in the coffin for oil rigs owned by small companies.

“When you think of an oil company building large infrastructure along the California coast, you think of a Chevron, an Exxon, a Shell, or something like that. But if you look at really who owns these and operates them, they are all companies you’ve never heard of. You really wonder who is in control,” he said.

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Brown wants to know what the cause of Tuesday’s spill was.