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State of Emergency Declared for California Oil Spill

The western U.S. state of California has declared a state of emergency for an area of coastline hit with one of the worst oil spills in the state's recent history.

Governor Jerry Brown issued the emergency proclamation late Wednesday, a day after the spill was discovered Tuesday at Refugio State Beach, in southern California near the city of Santa Barbara. The proclamation frees up set-aside state funding to assist with cleanup.

The leak is reported to have come from a rupture in an onshore oil pipeline. Officials estimate more than 100,000 gallons of oil may have leaked out before the oil flow was shut off late Tuesday, and about 21,000 gallons may have seeped down the beach to the sea.

U.S. largest oil spills, NOAA
U.S. largest oil spills, NOAA

A U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said the spill spans about 15 kilometers of coastline. Since cleanup efforts began Wednesday, more than 6,000 gallons of oil have been collected.

The company that runs the pipeline, Plains All American Pipeline LP, has apologized and says it is conducting cleanup operations around the clock.

That area of coastline is known for one of the nation's biggest oil spills in 1969. That spill helped inspire the U.S. environmental movement that continues its activity today.