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The Latest on California oil spill: Pipeline was at capacity

Clean up crews remove oil-laden sand on the beach at Refugio State Beach, site of an oil spill, north of Goleta, Calif., Wednesday, May 20, 2015. A broken onshore pipeline spewed oil down a storm drain and into the ocean for several hours Tuesday before it was shut off, creating a slick some 4 miles long about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara. (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant)

11:30 a.m. (PDT)

The company that owns the pipeline that broke and spewed oil into the Pacific Ocean says it’s still unknown exactly how much oil was lost, but the pipeline was operating at maximum capacity.

Plains All American Pipeline LP official Darren Palmer says the pipeline was running at a rate of 2,000 barrels an hour — equivalent to 84,000 gallons.

Initial estimates put the spill about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara at approximately 21,000 gallons. But U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams has said that figure was likely to change after a flyover provides a better sense of its scope.

She said Wednesday the oil slicks now stretch about 9 miles.

The 24-inch pipeline spewed oil down a storm drain and into the ocean for several hours Tuesday before it was shut off.

On Wednesday, crews fanned out along Refugio State Beach to work on cleanup.

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11 a.m. (PDT)

Oil floating off the California coast after a spill from a broken pipe now stretches about 9 miles.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams provided the updated figure during a news conference Wednesday in Goleta, California.

She says vessels have deployed three sets of floating booms to try to keep the slicks from spreading, while other boats are skimming oil from the sea surface.

A Coast Guard captain and an Environmental Protection Agency official are the federal coordinators of the response to the spill about 20 miles west of Santa Barbara. That’s because it originated on land and then entered the ocean.

Williams says state and local officials are also part of the unified command.

The broken onshore pipeline spewed thousands of gallons of oil down a storm drain and into the Pacific Ocean for several hours Tuesday before it was shut off.

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