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SCSQUARED halfBy Eric Heinz

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife officials announced Monday that at least some of the tar balls washing ashore from Santa Barbara County beaches to San Clemente have been linked to the Refugio oil spill that occurred May 19 as well as natural seepage from the ocean.

Plains All American Pipeline is responsible for the oil pipeline leak.

Readers have reported tar balls at San Clemente State Beach and Strand and Salt Creek Beaches in Dana Point.

Surfrider Foundation in San Clemente has been adamant about trying to prevent drilling for oil near beaches.

“The recent oil spill in Santa Barbara is a stark reminder that our ocean is precious and vulnerable, yet government officials and oil companies continue the dirty business of oil drilling. It is time to take a stand and defend the world’s ocean,” Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation, said in a May 28 press release.

A June 8 press release from Plains All American said between 21,000 and 101,000 gallons of oil are estimated to have leaked from the pipeline.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife update on Monday stated that cleanup operations continue “with the focus shifting from cleanup to environmental restoration.” More testing from the tar balls will be done, the release stated.

Surfrider Foundation is currently pushing for a federal moratorium on off-shore oil drilling.

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