Oil slick in California – level 3
Clean-up crews are working around the clock for a third day to remove patches of oil that have stained a beach and fouled offshore waters in California. Investigators are now looking into how tens of thousands of gallons of oil spewed into the sea off Santa Barbara.
As much as 105,000 gallons (397 cubic metres) of crude oil gushed onto San Refugio State Beach and into the sea when an underground pipeline suddenly burst on Tuesday morning.
The torrent of oil streamed down a canyon, under a culvert and out onto the once-pristine beach, blackening a 4-mile stretch of sand and rocks. It also left two oil slicks in the water spanning more than 9 miles.
The company responsible for the pipeline has publicly apologised and has said it shut off the flow about 30 minutes after operators detected pressure irregularities. State and local prosecutors are now investigating the incident to see if criminal charges could be brought, or if there are grounds for civil liability.
Difficult words: around the clock (all day and all night), foul (to pollute), spew (to get out with a lot of force), gush (to flow in large quantity), torrent (a stream), culvert (a tunnel carrying a stream under a road), pristine (very clean), stretch (an area), irregularity (when something is not regular), prosecutor (a person who conducts a legal proceeding), grounds (a possibility), liability (when you are legally responsible for something).
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