Plains Releases Tar Ball Fingerprint Analysis Results
Plains All American Pipeline has received final lab results from an analysis of tar balls collected from California beaches following the May 19 accidental crude oil release from its Line 901 in Santa Barbara.
Between May 19 and June 11, more than 50 samples of tar balls and oiled beach material were collected along the shoreline from as far west as Gaviota and as far south as San Clemente Beach. In addition, samples were collected from natural seeps in the area known to be sources of shoreline oiling and from oil released from Line 901.
Scientists used analytical techniques to provide chemical “fingerprints” of the tar balls, natural seeps and Line 901 oil. Oil fingerprinting is routinely used to determine the source of shoreline oiling by industry, researchers as well as government and regulatory entities.
Various analyses and interpretations of the oil sources were conducted at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of California Santa Barbara and Zymax Forensics Laboratory.
The results from the analyses to date show that during the first week after the release, May 19 to May 25, beaches impacted with oil from Line 901 were limited to those from Gaviota to El Capitan.
In the second week following the release, May 26 to May 31, a mix of Line 901 released oil and oil from other sources reached beaches in Ventura County and in Los Angeles County from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. During this same time, analysis of tar balls collected from the beaches between Gaviota and Santa Barbara showed the oil was from sources other than Line 901.
With respect to Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles County, lab results from tar balls collected on May 27 showed that a mix of oil from the Line 901 release and natural seeps contributed to tar balls in this area.
Between June 1 and June 7, analysis of tar ball samples collected from Gaviota to Santa Barbara showed the oil came only from sources other than the oil released from Line 901. Sheen sampling was conducted offshore at seven locations between Refugio and El Capitan Beaches on June 4 and results confirmed the source of this material was entirely from natural seeps.
Analysis of tar ball samples collected from Refugio Beach and Coal Oil Point between June 8 and June 11 showed the oil came from sources other than Line 901 released oil.