Large oil sheen spotted off Goleta Beach coast

GOLETA, Calif. (KABC) -- A large oil sheen was spotted off the coast of the Goleta Beach shore on Wednesday, but the source of the oil has not yet been determined.

Crews responded to the area due to a strong smell of gas and oil just before 10 a.m. When units arrived, they smelled a strong odor, and they also encountered some kayakers who had black oil on them. The slick was found 1,000 feet from the shoreline spanning 50 to 60 feet long.

"We're not calling this an oil spill because we don't know where the source is," said David Zaniboni of Santa Barbara County Fire.

He said the area is prone to natural seepage. Venoco Oil, one of the oil companies that has a pipeline near the oil slick, says there have been no incidents at their facilities.

By the afternoon, the Coast Guard said the oil sheen was approximately 3 miles long and 1-mile wide and will dissipate naturally. A marine safety team is doing an initial assessment to find the source.

The incident is about a dozen miles from Refugio State Beach, where a broken pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude into the ocean on May 19.

The Coast Guard, Fish and Game and the Environmental Protection Agency were called to the scene.

Goleta Beach remained open to visitors. No immediate health or safety risk was found at the beach, but officials urged the public to avoid immediate contact with the oil.
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