SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA.com) — Officials said Saturday that it might be months before the beaches at Santa Barbara return to their pre oil spill state.
Authorities on Saturday gave a better understanding of the ecological damage done to the area following Tuesday’s spill.
Birds, fish and sea lions were among the first casualties.
CBS2’s Greg Mills reported hundreds of people were working to help in the cleanup effort.
Inspections from the air Saturday indicated progress is being made in the cleanup effort along Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara and El Capitan State Beach in Goleta.
“Only widely scattered areas of light oil were observed off shore. The remaining oil continues to dissipate,” said a Coast Guard spokesperson.
Those overseeing the massive cleanup of the 9-and-one-half miles of coach affected by the spill say the skimming operation is not gathering as much oil as expected because much of it has thinned out.
Plains All American, the company that operates the pipeline, has been ordered to evacuate the pipeline within 10 days.
“As of this morning we have removed 370 barrels of oil — 15,540 gallons of oil — from the pipeline,” said Rick McMichael of Plains All American Pipeline.
One it cleans out, the process of repairing the pipeline begins.
Critics have accused the company of putting profit before safety.
“We have spent, and will continue t spend, over $1.3 billion to upgrade our systems to make them safer and more environmentally responsible,” said Patrick Hodgins of Plains All American.
Close to 700 people have been working on the cleanup effort — federal, state, local and private agencies.
Who is picking up the tab?
“At the end of the day Plains Pipeline will be responsible for taking care of the costs associated with this event,” Hodgins said.
A reporter asked, “In its entirety?”
Hodings replied “We will be responsible for everything involved in this spill, thank you,” Hodgins said.
Officials said El Capitan and Refugio State Beaches would reopen on June 4.