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Operator of California coastal oil pipeline says it could take months to find cause of spill

GOLETA, Calif. – The operator of a broken oil pipeline that fouled California beaches says it’ll take a while to determine the cause of the spill.

Officials at Plains All American Pipeline said Thursday that crews need to excavate the pipeline in the presence of federal regulators and a third party. After inspection, it can take weeks or months to determine what went wrong.

Tuesday’s spill on the Santa Barbara coast occurred in the same area as a 1969 catastrophic oil platform blowout.

Plains officials say they don’t know if pump problems detected on the pipeline around the time of the break were related to the spill. They also defended the company’s safety record, saying accidental releases have decreased as the number of miles of pipelines has increased.