Santa Barbara Oil Spill of Jan. 30, 1969
Jan. 30, 1969, Santa Barbara. Oil slicks have historically been the most vivid examples of the risks inherent in both oil shipping and offshore drilling. While the industry has drawn on lessons from each successive spill, advances in extraction techniques present new challenges.
Jan. 30, 1969, Santa Barbara, 4.2 Million Gallons Spilled: An oil well leak five and a half miles off the shore of Santa Barbara, Calif., released oil for 12 days before it could be plugged, creating a black film as thick as several inches along 35 miles of shoreline. Cleanup crews consisting mainly of prisoners scattered hundreds of tons of straw to soak up the oil, and spent weeks mopping, sandblasting, and steam-cleaning beaches. The disaster drove Senator Gaylord A. Nelson to conceive of the idea of Earth Day in April 1970, and influenced the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.