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Sacramento Group Helps Coordinate Oil Spill Cleanup

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With more than 21,000 gallons of crude oil creeping into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Santa Barbara, hands helping to stop it are busy  in Sacramento.

The command center for California's Office of Spill Prevention and Response, or OSPR, is right here in the state's capital.

Forty people have already been dispatched from the office to coordinate every aspect of cleaning up what a Plains All-American pipeline leaked out.

"We have two people who will be working geography info systems ... generating maps, collecting data, trajectories ... figuring out where the oil's gonna be" said Yvonne Addassi, the deputy administrator of OSPR.

You have to know how it may move in order to corral it.

Other OSPR field crews will be plotting out cleanup methods that will do the least amount of damage to the beach and rocky tidal areas.

Additional teams are locating what endangered species may be facing the oily threat.

The command center ramped up Tuesday about 45 minutes after a line two feet in diameter gave way.

"The spill started from a pipeline in the inland, came down a culvert underneath a railroad track, pooled into an area and then went down into a marine environment," Addassi said.

That's created the state's biggest spill response since the Cosco Busan container ship hit the Delta tower of the Bay Bridge in 2007.

The incident dumped more than 53,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay.

The ship's pilot went to federal prison for using prescription drugs that impaired his judgement that day, resulting in the death of almost 7,000 birds and killing off as much as 29 percent of the herring spawn that winter.

A district manager for Plains All-American is apologizing for a leak now estimated 105,000 gallons, with a fifth of that hitting open water.

The extent of the damage at this point is unknown.

It will be up to OSPR to determine if anything criminal happened in this case.

"We're under an active investigation,  so I'm not at liberty  to comment," Addassi said.