Get Oil Out! Inc. was formed in the wake of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969. The shock and horror of that environmental disaster inspired a generation of environmentalists to fight oil pollution and to fight oil addiction. Over the years GOO has had many successes in fighting to protect California from further oil development and exploitation. However, the fight to curb America's oil addiction has struggled mightily over the last 41 years. In the wake of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, GOO has recoginzed that we can never truly get oil development out of our oceans unless we get over oil addiction in our individual--and collective lives. Over the coming year, GOO will be focusing our efforts on developing better techniques to help people to deal effectively with their (our) oil addiction. We call this process Petroleum Addiction Rehabilitation Therapy or P.A.R.T. It is GOO's intention to be PART of the solution to America's Oil addiction and we each intend to do our individual PART to help lead the way. Please check back regularly to see the progress we are making in the fight to end our addiction to oil.
About 9:30am Wednesday, January 28, the phone rang at my desk at the News Press. "The ocean is boiling around Platform A," a male voice said. The anonymous caller stated the drill bit struck a high pressure gas pocket which kicked back out of control and everyone except the drilling crew was evacuated from the platform. That was 24 hours ago, and during the night, the gas eruption turned into an uncontrolled rush of crude oil.
– Excerpt from An Ocean of Oil by Robert Sollen, published 1998 (page 47).
1969 Oil Spill – The environmental disaster that inspired the formation of GOO!
On the afternoon of January 28, 1969, an environmental nightmare began in Santa Barbara, California. A Union Oil Co. platform stationed six miles off the coast of Summerland suffered a blowout. Oil workers had drilled a well down 3500 feet below the ocean floor. Riggers began to retrieve the pipe in order to replace a drill bit when the "mud" used to maintain pressure became dangerously low. A natural gas blowout occurred. An initial attempt to cap the hole was successful but led to a tremendous buildup of pressure. The expanding mass created five breaks in an east-west fault on the ocean floor, releasing oil and gas from deep beneath the earth.
For eleven days, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. During that time, 200,000 gallons of crude oil bubbled to the surface and was spread into a 800 square mile slick by winds and swells. Incoming tides brought the thick tar to beaches from Rincon Point to Goleta, marring 35 miles of coastline. Beaches with off-shore kelp forests were spared the worst as kelp fronds kept most of the tar from coming ashore. The slick also moved south, tarring Anacapa Island's Frenchy's Cove and beaches on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands.
Animals that depended on the sea were hard hit. Incoming tides brought the corpses of dead seals and dolphins. Oil had clogged the blowholes of the dolphins, causing massive lung hemorrhages. Animals that ingested the oil were poisoned. In the months that followed, gray whales migrating to their calving and breeding grounds in Baja California avoided the channel —their main route south.
The oil took its toll on the seabird population. Shorebirds like plovers, godwits and willets which feed on sand creatures fled the area. But diving birds which must get their nourishment from the waters themselves became soaked with tar and perished.
It took years to clean up the beaches and nearly a decade for the marine eco-system to recover from the disaster.