Unified Command to oversee and monitor excavation into root cause of 421 Pier Release

Jul 1, 2019 | Oil and Gas, Press Release


Unified Command
News Release


Sheri Pemberton, CA State Lands PIO, 916.477.0691
Steve Gonzalez, CA Fish and Wildlife PIO, 916.715.9072

Goleta, CA – The investigation has resumed into the cause of the May 28, 2019, 421 Pier Release, reestablishing the Unified Command.

The State Lands Commission and its agents, in coordination with the City of Goleta, the Department of Fish Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and the United States Coast Guard, have continued to investigate the May 2019, oil release from the Pier 421-2 caisson adjacent to the Sand Piper Golf Course. The initial response lasted roughly five days and was concluded June 1, 2019.

On Wed., July 3, 2019, the Commission, working with a third party, will assess the source of the discharge by excavating outside of the caisson during the low tide in the early morning hours. The goal of the operation is to help the U.C. identify a point source for the 421 Pier Release and identify any potential discharges related to the incident.

Since the release, the Commission and its agents have investigated the interior of the caisson for oil (by coring) and have found no “free oil” (only an oil soil mix). The oil that was released and has repeatedly surfaced is identified as “weathered” because the lighter chemical compounds have broken down or evaporated over long periods of time. Continued sampling of oil surfacing on the beach outside of the caisson has been tested and the oil from the release is not matching the oil from the production zone of the well. The oil surfacing on the beach outside of the caisson, however, does have the same chemical characteristics as the oil sampled during the release.

Unified Command continues to work with local Tribal governments regarding potential cultural and sensitive sites along the coastline.

The Unified Command will update stakeholders as the work evolves and as additional information is gathered. The Unified Command’s goal is to ensure that the plug and abandonment operations progress and that the eventual decommissioning and removal of the piers and remaining infrastructure will not pose a health and safety threat or a threat to the environment.