We simply cannot address Earth Day without discussing the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. The oil spill was the rise of Earth Day after Gaylord Nelson, U.S. Senator, came to a realization that we need to protect our planet and demand that it be a priority in the political agenda.

The oil spill took place on January 28, 1969, when a Union Oil Co. platform experienced a massive explosion. 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 below the federal and California’s minimum requirements at the time. Oil workers drilled a well down 3,500 feet below the ocean floor. Riggers began to retrieve the pipe to replace a drill bit when the mud used to manage pressure became severely low. A natural gas blowout occurred. The first attempt to cap the hole was a success, but led to an overwhelming buildup of pressure. The pressure resulted in a burst that was very powerful and produced five breaks that released oil at a rate of 1,000 gallons per hour.

What Happened After the Oil Spill?

For eleven days, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a damaged oil rig. As a result, 3,600 birds were dead along with seals, dolphins, countless fish and marine invertebrates.

Skimmers removed oil from the ocean surface while planes dropped detergents on the tar in an attempt to dissolve the slick. On the beaches and harbors, straw was laid out on oily patches of water and sand. The straw was used to soak up the mess and was then cleared up.


Oil spills continue to be a common occurrence damaging our water and hurting innocent animals. That is why we stand by solar power and will continue to inform our community of its importance. We urge you to switch to solar today and help keep our planet clean and green.

Read the full story at www.geog.ucsb.edu.