Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

1969: Oil rises from fissure on the ocean floor to the surface beside Union Oil Co., drilling platform six miles of the coast near Santa Barbara. This photo was published in the Feb. 9, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Feb. 9, 1969: Men in boats and on shore gather in straw being used to soak up oil in Santa Barbara Harbor. A boom helps contain the worst of the oil slick, which has stained 30 miles of coastline. This photo was published in the Feb. 10, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Cormier / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: Dept. of Fish and Game worker Larry Sturman holds cormorant covered with oil. This photo was published in the Feb. 9, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

Jan. 31, 1969: A 140-foot workboat sprays chemicals in an attempt to disperse the slick about five miles off Santa Barbara. This photo was published in the Feb. 1, 1969, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 6, 1969: Workers in small-wooden boat off Santa Barbara breakwater scoop oil-soaked straw into barrels during cleanup of oil slick in Santa Barbara Channel. Straw is later put aboard dump trucks for disposal. This photo was published in the Feb. 7, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: R. L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: Sens. Edmund Muskie (D-Me.), and Alan Cranston, (D-Calif.), right, observe work at oil-covered Santa Barbara area beach with Rear Adm. Chester Bender, left, of the Coast Guard. This photo was published in the Feb. 8, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

This seal bears streaky traces of oil on its skin from the Santa Barbara oil spill.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Associated Press

Feb. 9, 1969: Workman Dave Kirkwood sprays live steam onto rocks at the harbor at Santa Barbara breakwater to clear oil smears. This photo was published in the Feb. 10, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Don Cormier / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 5, 1969: An oil-soaked cormorant, its brown plumage turned black, lies on the beach at Santa Barbara. Bird was beyond saving. This photo was published in the Feb. 6, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ray Graham / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 6, 1969: A cleanup crewman, Jess Hernandez, directs oil and sludge toward the suction hose of a truck at harbor in Santa Barbara. This photo was published in the Feb. 8, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: R. L. Oliver / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: In an effort to block the oil slick, a load of fill is dumped at the entrance to Ventura Keys Channel. This photo was published in the Feb. 8, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bruce Cox / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: Dorothy McKenzie and Bruce Bemer, 13, volunteered to help wash oil-stricken birds at the Child's Estate Foundation Zoo in Santa Barbara. This photo was published in the Feb. 10, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: An oil drenched duck undergoes a cleaning at Carpinteria State Beach. This photo was published in the Feb. 10, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times

Feb. 7, 1969: Cormorant's bill is held by rubber band during bath to remove oil after the Santa Barbara oil spill. This photo was published in the Feb. 10, 1969 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mary Frampton / Los Angeles Times

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1969 Santa Barbara oil spill

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1969 Santa Barbara oil spill

Images of the 1969 oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast.

In a May 20, 2015, story, staff writer reported:

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 that 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. …

Mai-Duc’s full story is online: The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that changed oil and gas exploration forever.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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