January 28, 1969 – Santa Barbara Spill brings Environmental Movement
After drilling 3,500 below the Pacific Ocean floor, a Union Oil Company drilling platform six miles off Santa Barbara suffers a blowout. The accident spills up to 100,000 barrels of oil into the ocean and reaches southern California’s beaches, including Summerland – where the U.S. offshore industry began in 1896 with wells drilled from piers.
Earth Day is born in the spring following the January 1969 offshore spill at Santa Barbara, California, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
At the Union Oil platform, “Riggers began to retrieve the pipe in order to replace a drill bit when the ‘mud’ used to maintain pressure became dangerously low,” explains a report by the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“A natural gas blowout occurred. An initial attempt to cap the hole was successful but led to a tremendous buildup of pressure. The expanding mass created five breaks in an east-west fault on the ocean floor, releasing oil and gas from deep beneath the earth.”
It will take oil field workers 12 days to control the well by pumping chemical mud down the bore hole at a rate of 1,500 barrels an hour.
“In the spring following the oil spill, Earth Day was born nationwide,” the report concludes. “Many consider the publicity surrounding the oil spill a major impetus to the environmental movement.” Read the rest of this entry »