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Southern California No Stranger to Oil Disasters; ’69 Spill Spurred Environmental Changes

Southern California is no stranger to oil leaks and spills. The 126,000-gallon leak this weekend at Huntington Beach was about 115 miles from Santa Barbara, site of the third-largest oil spill in American history in 1969, the Associated Press reported.

The 1969 catastrophe is remembered as one of the top human-caused disasters in the United States, as the Santa Barbara Channel was flooded with about 3.5 million to 4.2 million gallons of crude in a 10-day period. The spill was caused by a blowout six miles offshore on a Union Oil drilling platform.

Santa Barbara residents were given no input on the controversial Union Oil platform that was drilled into federal waters. During the frugal construction before the 1969 spill, regulations tried to call for protective steel casing to extend at least 300 feet below the ocean floor, but the company cut corners and obtained a waiver, installing only 239 feet.

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