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Photos Of The Devastating Santa Barbara Oil Spill Along The Coast

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A massive cleanup is underway after a ruptured pipeline spewed an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil along Refugio State Beach in the the Santa Barbara County Coast.

As of last night, the oil spill was reported to have spread 4 miles west of the Refugio State Beach toward El Capitan State Beach, according to the L.A. Times. ABC 7 says there are fears that the wind and surf could lengthen that stretch to 2 to 4 more miles. Coast Guard crews, with the help of emergency officials and state park officials are working on cleaning up the spill. So far, about 850 barrels of crude oil have been removed from the waters.

The oil came from a 24-inch underground pipeline belonging to Houston-based Plains All-American Pipeline that runs from Las Flores to Gaviota. It was first reported by a woman walking along the state beach on Tuesday around noon when she smelled the pungent oil fumes. Coast Guard crews were able to stop the leak in the pipeline by 3 p.m., but the spill had already done its damage.

Photos of the devastating oil spill shows the ocean waters covered in an oil slick. Although there haven't been any reports of affected wildlife, photos are surfacing of marine life, including fish and octopus, dead and covered in oil. Noozhawk photographer, Lara Cooper, snapped this heartbreaking photo of a bird affected by the spill:

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Brett Connors, a 35-year-old producer from Santa Monica, told the Times that he saw sea lions swimming in the oil-laden waters. "It is horrible," he said. "You want to jump in there and save them."

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney announced today that they would be investigating the spill to review "potentially relevant criminal and civil statutes," CBS Los Angeles reports.

Plains All-American Pipeline issued a statement yesterday: "Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact. Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of all involved. No injuries have been reported at this time."

Refugio State Beach is about 20 miles west of downtown Santa Barbara. It's a popular beach that is a hotspot for camping. PCN reported that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a home located adjacent to the oil spill.

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There was another oil spill back in 1969 along the same area caused by Union Oil (which later became Unocal), the Times reports. The massive spill spewed out an estimated 3 million gallons of oil, spreading to 35 miles along the coast, killing marine life and birds.