An oil pipeline that ruptured and spilled an estimated 383 000 litres of crude near Santa Barbara last month had been allowed to corrode to a tiny fraction of its original thickness, according to federal regulators.
The preliminary findings released yesterday by the PHMSA point to corrosion at the break site, which had degraded the pipe wall thickness to about 1.5 mm (one 16th of an inch).
The report also said the area of the pipeline that failed was close to three repairs that had been made because of corrosion after 2012 inspections.
The findings indicated that over 80% of the metal pipe wall had worn away over time because of corrosion, said Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts Inc., which investigates pipeline incidents.
The line where the break occurred is shut down indefinitely.
Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner
Sources: The Guardian, Wall Street Journal