Plains All American Pipeline is working with Santa Barbara County and other organizations on a new pipeline to the replace the line that ruptured and caused the Refugio Oil Spill in 2015.
Plains hosted an open house in Goleta on Thursday night to discuss the project after similar events in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria this week.
“The open houses have been really good to get the public to come in and for us to hear from them and them to hear from us,” said Steve Greig, Government Affairs Director for Plains. “And we want to continue that open dialogue. We want to be transparent with the public.”
The new pipeline would resume oil transportation in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties but only transport existing offshore oil.
The new pipeline will feature nearly twice as many shutoff valves as the ruptured line, as well as two additional pump stations to reduce operating pressure on the line.
The new line will be about half the diameter of the existing line and the system’s design capacity will be only 20% of the original system. The size changes are to fit current regulations and handle the current offshore oil production in the area.
The new pipeline will take the route of the existing pipeline, with a slightly different path in Buellton to avoid interacting with residential areas that have grown over the original line’s path.
Representatives from Plains said the construction will add about 400 temporary local jobs and about 10-15 permanent ones.
The project will now move through the permitting process. The new pipeline could be ready for construction by the summer of 2021 and could be in operation by the summer of 2022.
About a dozen people from environmental groups arrived outside the open house to protest the new project around 5 p.m.
“We don’t need any more pipelines,” said Bill Woodbridge. “Plains All American has already proven that they’re incompetent and irresponsible. There’s no such thing as a safe pipeline. So I wanted to come and show my opposition.”
The Sierra Club Los Padres chapter issued a statement on the project, saying there is record opposition to offshore oil on the South Coast and it’s wrong that the open house overlaps with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill.
“This is the wrong time and the wrong place,” The statement says, in part. “Plains doesn’t deserve a second chance.”
Greig says the company understands local environmental safety concerns.
“I guess one of the things that’s important to me is I’m a local,” he said. “I live in Goleta. I’ve been here since I went to school at UCSB. We understand the importance of the environment to the community. We understand the importance of the Pacific Ocean. And we’re glad that we’re able to meet with the community and get their questions answered.”