By Eric Heinz

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife officials announced Monday that at least some of the tar balls washing ashore from Santa Barbara County beaches to San Clemente have been linked to the Refugio oil spill that occurred May 19 as well as natural seepage from the ocean.

Plains All American Pipeline is responsible for the oil pipeline leak.

Readers have reported the sporadic appearance of tar balls at San Clemente State Beach and in Dana Point at Strand and Salt Creek Beaches.

A June 8 press release from Plains All American said between 21,000 and 101,000 gallons of oil are estimated to have leaked from the pipeline.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife update on Monday stated that cleanup operations continue in Santa Barbara, “with the focus shifting from cleanup to environmental restoration.” More testing from the tar balls will be done, the release stated.

Orange County Lifeguards officials said they have not seen an excess of tar since earlier in the month but a small amount of the sticky goo remains.

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