The oil spill that started Earth Day…

The Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 spewed an estimated 3-million gallons of crude oil into the ocean, creating an oil slick 35 miles long along California’s coast and killing thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals.

Following the spill, the region became ground zero for some of the most significant conservation efforts of the 20th century.

The Jan. 28, 1969, blowout was caused by inadequate safety precautions taken by Unocal, which was known then as Union Oil. The company received a waiver from the U.S. Geological Survey that allowed it to build a protective casing around the drilling hole that was 61 feet short of the federal minimum requirements at the time.

The resulting explosion was so powerful it cracked the sea floor in five places, and crude oil spewed out of the rupture at a rate of 1,000 gallons an hour for a month before it could be slowed.

It was the worst oil spill in the nation’s history – until 20 years later, when the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude off the coast of Alaska.
Source

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