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For most of the week, hundreds of clean-up workers have collected globs of black goo and scrubbed rocks coated with the sticky substance to restore a California beach that was contaminated with oil.
On Tuesday, a 24-inch pipeline ruptured, releasing more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil that seeped into the sands of the Refugio State Beach, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, California. A fifth of the escaped oil reached the sea, resulting in an oil slick nine miles wide along the coastline.
Cleanup crews have recovered more than 9,000 gallons of oil, but officials warned that a full restoration of the beach is a long, labored process. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams, who is leading the clean-up effort, said it could take months.
“I do want to manage expectations — cleanup doesn’t happen overnight,” Williams said in a Thursday news conference. “It’s a moving target when you’re talking about oil on the water. It’s a difficult process.”
An oil slick covers the coast of Refugio State Beach in California on May 19. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
A lobster is covered in oil. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Volunteer William McConnaughey, 56, who drove from San Diego to help shovel oil off the beach, stands in an oil slick in bare feet along the coast of Refugio State Beach. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Volunteer William McConnaughey stretches out his hands after carrying buckets of oil. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Buckets of oil collected from the oil slick. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
An oil spill makes patterns in marine algae in the waters off Refugio State Beach. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters
A bird covered in oil flies along the California coast. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
A box of sea creatures killed by the oil slick. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
A pelican is covered in oil. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
An octopus spattered in oil washed ashore the Refugio State Beach. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
An oil slick covers the Refugio State Beach in Goleta, California on May 19. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Source of the oil spill near Refugio State Beach, California. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Reuters
Workers clean up the oil slick. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Protesters call for a ban on fracking and a phasing out of oil development in California on May 21 following the oil spill. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Working into the night to clean up the oil. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
The sun sets over Refugio State Beach. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Joshua Barajas is a senior editor for the PBS NewsHour's Communities Initiative. He also the senior editor and manager of newsletters.
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