Oil Spill in Santa Barbara (January 28, 1969)

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One cloudy day on a beach January 28,1969 one horrific life marking accident happened. Who would ever believe an oil spill can affect the political, economy, recreational and environment? Sadly it did, that day marked many people, businesses, animals and community in Santa Barbara. It was uncontrollable that it lasted eleven days, even after these eleven days the beach was not the same. After the eruption local residence feared greedy oil companies would destroy their beaches and coastal waters by trying to over work the land to mine oil. Yet, with the help of the government, the economy and determined residences they were able to set more rules and regulations slowing down oil companies ability to drill on and offshore. By using a number of different newspaper articles this paper will analyze how the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill affected local businesses, the environment, beach recreations and the political role the government played after the event.

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The spill did not just affect humans or companies but more importantly the life of the animals. The spill killed an estimate of 3,500 sea animals. Scientist and helpers tried saving the sea animals but there was no way to save so many due to the animals eating so much oil. The marine life was gradually affected because of this incident because the fishing school primary was shut down. The amount of fishing being caught were lowering and the amount of dead fishes was increasing. The fishing school had no way to move their boat or even fish because fishes were toxic and filled with oil or either died. Sales at the stores were dropped about 70% of sales. Boats were being sold and the fishering school had sold three boats, Due to all this happening something had to be done to fix the lost and damage of the sea animals. Senate passed a water pollution bill to outlaw the discharge of oil. This is affecting the animals because of pesticides in the water. DDT could have be banned from watersheds because of the effects it can cause fishes and drinking water.

The Santa Barbara oil may have occurred in 1969 but the impact on the people and the recreation of the beach will continue to be affected. When the oil spill first blew out, there were barrel upon barrels of oil spilling. In order to relieve oil spillage, the Union oil company suggested putting up 50 more oil wells of which they got after a bit of controversy (#64). This mistake would soon be awarded in forms of less and less space for recreation. The time following these oil wells the media would begin to cover aftermath of the oil spill. This drastically decreased the beaches recreational area to about 90 miles (#83). This caused tourism to go down drastically. When families approached they could barely catch glimpses of the ocean; this dropped tourism drastically and Santa Barbara lost $400,000 in tourism (#84). Santa Barbara was facing tragedy because of this oil spill and it would not easily forgiven or forgotten. This media attention changed Santa Barbara’s face forever.

Affect The Political:

The Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 spewed an estimated 3-million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. The blowout seemed to be caused by deficient safety measures which resulted in a explosion that was so potent it cracked the sea floor in five places, leaving oil to gush out. California State Lands Commission delayed on all new offshore drilling in state waters just three years later. In the aftermath of the spill, President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 which would require environmental impact reports. In the following year the California Environmental Quality Act was adopted leading to the nation’s first Earth Day. Laws regulating air and water pollution soon followed along with legislation that would protect sensitive coastal areas and endangered species. Rather than the focus be on land conservation, these new laws focused on protecting resources such as air and water, as well as wildlife.

Affect The Economical:

The 1969 oil rupture that took place in Santa Barbara left thousands of local residence with the fear of losing their beautiful coastal views. About a year before the oil spill happened one of the largest oil transaction, at the time, “the Department of the Interior auctioned oil-drilling rights on nearly 1,000 square miles of ocean floor off Santa Barbara…” for hundreds of millions of dollars (Gladwin). When this happened local residences were concerned for the little economic value the county had left, and were scared that their beautiful surroundings would be ruined by an oil spill. Sadly, that is exactly what happened not to long after. Since the disaster oil businesses drilling in the Santa Barbara area are being watched under a magnifying glass and new rules and regulations have also been placed on oil drilling companies. In the article New Channel Drilling Rules Not Too Costly, by Thomas W. Bush, we learn that after the oil eruption Mr. Hickle had placed a new regulation requiring oil drilling company to purchase a backup safety valve when drilling in case the first one gets damaged. By adding rules and regulations it causes oil companies more of an inconvenience since it’s more expensive and time consuming.

Santa Barbara oil spill affected many aspects in the community. Many people, business and animals were affected although the senate, president and others helpers tried to find ways to help everyone some agreements were good and some were bad.  

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Oil Spill In Santa Barbara (January 28, 1969). (2021, Apr 05). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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