A pipeline ruptured along the scenic California coastline on Tuesday (20 May), spilling some 21,000 gallons of oil into the ocean, which then washed over beaches, before it could be secured, a US Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The pipeline, which runs parallel to Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, left a slick extending about four miles along Refugio State Beach, extending about 50 yards in the water, Petty Officer Andrea Anderson of the Coast Guard said.

Anderson said the company responsible for the 24-inch pipeline was identified as Plains All American Pipeline, which had brought in a company to begin cleaning up the spill. Refugio State Beach was closed. A thick sheen coated rocks and sand along a portion of the beach. The cause of the rupture had not been determined, Anderson said.

Richard Abrams, emergency manager for Santa Barbara County, said the Coast Guard, Department of Fish and Wildlife and Santa Barbara County were assisting on the clean-up.