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9-Mile Oil Slick Coats Scenic Central California Coast After Pipeline Spill Near Santa Barbara

GOLETA, Calif. (CBS/AP) -- Oil floating off the California coast after a spill from a broken pipe now stretches about 9 miles.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams provided the updated figure during a news conference Wednesday.

She says vessels have deployed three sets of floating booms to try to keep the slicks from spreading, while other boats are skimming oil from the sea surface.

A Coast Guard captain and an Environmental Protection Agency official are the federal coordinators of the response to the spill about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara. That's because it originated on land and then entered the ocean.

Williams says state and local officials are also part of the unified command.

The 24-inch pipeline is owned by Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil and the culvert carrying the oil to the ocean was blocked.

"Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact," the company said in a statement.

The Coast Guard, county emergency officials and state parks officials were cleaning up the spill. Boats from the nonprofit collective Clean Seas also were providing help but were having trouble because so much of theoil was so close to the shore, Williams said. About 850 gallons of oil have been recovered from the water, Williams said.

The accident occurred on the same stretch of coastline as a 1969 spill that at the time was the largest ever in U.S. waters and is credited for giving rise to the American environmental movement. Several hundred thousand gallons spilled from a blowout on an oil platform and thousands of sea birds were killed along with many marine mammals.

The stretch of coastline is home to offshore oil rigs and small amounts of tar and seepage regularly show up on beaches.

The spill is largest in years and the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center said to have it occur in "a sensitive and treasured environment is devastating to watch." The group expressed special worry for the many species of whale that migrate through the area.

It was unclear how long the cleanup would take and whether Refugio and other areas would be reopened in time for Memorial Day weekend.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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