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Documents Show California Pipeline Spill Much Worse Than Initially Disclosed

Earnings reports for the Texas-based company reveal that 40 percent more oil may have leaked from ruptured coastal pipeline

A protest in Santa Barbara, California following the May 20 oil pipeline spill along Refugio State Beach. (Photo: Steve Storm/cc/flickr)

A protest in Santa Barbara, California following the May 20 oil pipeline spill along Refugio State Beach. (Photo: Steve Storm/cc/flickr)

An oil pipeline spill along the Santa Barbara coast this spring may have been up to 40 percent bigger than originally estimated, documents made public Wednesday revealed.

The quarterly earnings report for Texas-based Plains All American Pipeline disclosed that as many as 143,000 gallons of crude may have been spilled during the May 20 pipeline rupture. Previous estimates held that approximately 101,000 gallons were spilled.

"The company is continuing its analysis, and the figures are preliminary," AP reports.

During the spill, oil flowed from the aging pipeline, which runs parallel to route 101, down a culvert into the ocean along Refugio State Beach. An oil sheen was visible up to fifty yards off the coast.

In the weeks following, small tar balls were found as far south as Redondo Beach in Los Angeles County and, according to the Los Angeles Times, "hundreds of sea birds and mammals, many coated in crude, washed up in the spill area."

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