Failure Investigation Report: Plains Pipeline, LP, Line 901, Crude Oil Release, May 19, 2015, Santa Barbara County, California

At approximately 10:55 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) on May 19, 2015, the Plains Pipeline, LP (Plains), Line 901 pipeline in Santa Barbara County, California, ruptured, resulting in the release of approximately 2,934 barrels (bbl) of heavy crude oil. An estimated 500 bbl of crude oil entered the Pacific Ocean. Line 901 is a 24-inch diameter buried, insulated pipeline which extends approximately 10.7 miles in length and transports heated crude oil from Exxon Mobil’s storage tanks in Las Flores Canyon westward to Plains’ Gaviota Pumping Station. On May 21, 2015, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, issued a Corrective Action Order (CAO) that required the operator to shut down Line 901. Concurrent with the issuance and implementation of the CAO, PHMSA conducted an investigation to identify causal factors that contributed to the occurrence and size of the crude oil release. As the failure investigation progressed, the CAO was amended to address additional safety concerns that were identified. On June 18, 2015, Line 901 was purged and filled with inert nitrogen to enhance safety during the investigation and development of a remedial action plan. No fatalities or injuries occurred as a result of this rupture and release. The spill resulted in substantial damage to natural habitats and wildlife. PHMSA’s findings indicate that the proximate or direct cause of the Line 901 failure was external corrosion that thinned the pipe wall to a level where it ruptured suddenly and released heavy crude oil. PHMSA’s investigation identified numerous contributory causes of the rupture, including: (1) Ineffective protection against external corrosion of the pipeline; (2) Failure by Plains to detect and mitigate the corrosion; and (3) Lack of timely detection of and response to the rupture.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 510p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01600201
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: May 20 2016 11:05AM