SUMMERLAND ( — Santa Barbara County health officials have closed down Summerland Beach due to oil in the water and on the sand.

The health department had at first just warned beachgoers to stay away from excessive tar balls that are covering the sand and stinking up Summerland Beach south of Santa Barbara. But after finding more and more liquid oil over a 300-yard stretch, officials decided Friday afternoon to shut it down entirely.

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The Coast Guard says it’s also responding to the site. Summerland Beach is located south of Santa Barbara County Lookout Park. The beach extends east towards Loon Point.

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It’s not yet clear when the beach may reopen or where the oil is coming from, but health officials say they do not believe it’s connected to the Refugio pipeline spill. That spill in May about 30 miles away on the other side of Santa Barbara and sent 100,000 gallons out to the beach and ocean.

The area has large amounts of natural seepage that can foul its beaches.

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