Essay about Santa Barbara Oil Spill - Essay Prowess

Essay about Santa Barbara Oil Spill


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Santa Barbara Oil Spill

Summary of the incident

This incident encompasses the analysis of an environmental pollution that occurred last Tuesday at Santa Barbara county and its environs, following the rupturing of one Plains All American Pipeline Company`s oil pipe. The pipeline had a diameter of 24-inches and conveys crude oil from Las Flores Canyon to Plains pump station in Gaviota, a distance of 10.6 miles. It is estimated that, based on the elevation of this pipeline and the typical flow rate of oil, approximately 105,000 gallons got spilled, out of which almost 21,000 gallons flowed into the pacific ocean, and the rest spilled on land (Blood & Melley, 2015). The oil spill resulted to numerous adverse outcomes to the aquatic and wild animals, natural habitat, human beings, and the economy as a whole, especially due to the closure of two busy state beaches and the high clean-up costs. However, since the actual cause of this oil spill is not yet known, the States` attorney generals in collaboration with local prosecutors and federal agencies are conducting thorough investigations in order to establish the cause. Apparently, the occurrence of this Santa Barbara oil spill led to the commemoration of other oil spills that have been earlier experienced in California, including the 1969 disaster and the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident.

The hazardous material(s) involved and hazardous classification

In this incident, there are numerous hazardous materials that are involved. Moreover, these hazardous materials can be classified into different classes, depending on their physical and chemical properties. For example, this spilled oil contains liquefied gases (oil gas), which belongs to the class of hazardous gases. This class is characterized by the presence of chocking or irritating smell when inhaled by living organisms. This is the core reason why the smell of the spilled oil had a burning sensation in the nostrils, and severe headache soon after inhalation. This incident involves petroleum crude oil, which belongs to flammable liquids class of hazardous materials. Crude oil is can easily ignite especially after coming into contact with burning substance such as cigarette buffs. I think this is the core reason why the California authorities declared a state of emergency soon after the occurrence of this incident. Moreover, the spilled oil also had toxic substances such as lead, which adversely affects the health of living organisms when ingested, inhaled or come into contact with them (Dangerous Goods International, 2014). This is the rationale for the death of pelicans, dolphins, and others.

Chemical properties and interactions relevant to the incident/project

The spilled oil has numerous chemical properties. For example, the oil is less dense than water, and this is the reason why it floated on the ocean. In addition, the spilled oil had a lower viscosity (resistance to flow), and this is the reason why It had flowed to a large water surface within the few days. In addition, the spilled oil had lower surface tension (the attraction between the surface molecules of a substance) (Environmental Protection Agency, 2013). This made the spilled oil be easily moved by wind and water currents.

Short or long-term mitigation implemented

In this incident, there are various mitigation measures that have been implemented. For example, most environmentalists have urged politicians to resist any other oil projects in Santa Barbara, and instead embrace the use of renewable sources of energy. Consecutively, environmental protection and safety measures to be observed by pipeline companies have been implemented by state and federal environmental agencies, and any violators is liable to incur high compensation and clean-up costs Blood & Melley, 2015).


It is, therefore, evident that oil spills have numerous adverse health, environmental, and economic outcomes. However, even though numerous environmental safety measures have been put in place, these incidents continue to occur since most oil companies violate these rules. To be on the safe side, I think it is the high time for the federal governmental to embrace the use of renewable sources of energy, since they are not only renewable, but also ensure sustainable development.


Blood M., and Melley B., (2015). Santa Barbara Oil Spill 2015. Retrieved from,

Dangerous Goods International, (2014). The nine classes of hazardous materials. Retrieved from,

Environmental Protection Agency, (2013). Petroleum: physical and chemical properties. Retrieved from,