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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... a massive 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara, California.


CURWOOD: Thirty years ago an oil well blew up off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Black crude owned by Union Oil spewed for a week, and before it was plugged 3 million gallons escaped. The resulting oil slick covered 800 square miles of ocean and beaches and killed thousands of marine animals, mostly seals and birds. Images of the disaster were broadcast into millions of homes and served as a catalyst for eco-activism. The calamity helped spur passage of landmark environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act. The incident also sparked the formation of a group called Get Oil Out, otherwise known as GOO. The Santa Barbara spill was the largest in California history, until last year when another spill by the same company, now called Unocal, dumped more than 8 and a half million gallons of oil on beaches near Guadalupe. The US record still belongs to Exxon. Eleven million gallons of oil from the Exxon Valdez flowed into Alaska's Prince William Sound 10 years ago. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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