California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Thursday that the investigation into the Refugio oil spill could lead to a civil or even criminal indictment. “Everything is on the table,” she said. “We’re here to investigate and determine if there was criminal behavior.”
Harris toured Refugio State Beach and the surrounding area with Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley. Harris described the findings thus far around the Plains All American Pipeline spill as “troubling.” She declined to provide more information given the ongoing investigation, but said more than a dozen of her office’s attorneys are working on the case.
Dudley issued her own statement Thursday, saying, “The partnership between our two offices is exactly what is needed to carefully analyze the vast scientific and documentary evidence that we expect to review. I hope to be able to share my decision with our community regarding potential charges by the end of the summer.”
Standing just down the shoreline from the spill site, where more than 20,000 gallons of oil seeped into the ocean two weeks ago, Harris said she was pleased by the level of organization and collaboration among the two dozen local, state, and federal responding agencies. “The government has been right to act swiftly,” she declared.
Private companies have also been contracted to provide cleanup services, as well as security. “It is clear to me the work they do is personal,” said Harris. “They care deeply about our environment.”
Refugio State Beach is “part of what makes California the best place in the world,” Harris went on. But because removing tar from boulders is a difficult task, the beach is also facing real challenges, she said.
Harris expressed her gratitude toward volunteers and ensured there will come a time when community members may enter the beach and conduct their own “appropriate cleanup.”