Risk Assessment of Seafood Consumption Following the Refugio Beach Oil Spill Incident in Santa Barbara County, California

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The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), a department within the California Environmental Protection Agency, is responsible for evaluating potential public health risks associated with seafood consumption following marine oil spills in California.  This task includes making recommendations on fisheries closure and rescinding closures to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  OEHHA’s authorities to conduct these activities are based on a mandate in the:

  • California Fish and Game Code
    • Section 5654

This report presents a seafood risk assessment conducted by OEHHA to support these recommendations following the Refugio Beach oil spill incident.

On May 19, 2015, a 24-inch pipeline, the Plains All American Line 901 that runs from Las Flores to Gaviota, ruptured on the north side of Highway 101 near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California.  An estimated 101,000 to 140,000 gallons of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Las Flores crude oil leaked from the broken pipe; an estimated 21,000 gallons drained into a culvert under Highway 101 and rolled over a bluff into the Pacific Ocean.  A final estimate of spilled oil volume is not yet available and is currently under investigation.