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US gives order for pipe company to finish oil spill cleanup

In this Saturday, May 23, 2015 photo released by the U.S. Coast Guard, two cleanup crew members work to remove oil from the sand along a portion of soiled coastline near Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif. Oil spilled from a pipeline resulted in the cleanup efforts at the onshore site and along several miles of California coastline. (Chief Petty Officer David Mosley/U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — Two federal agencies issued an order Wednesday to ensure that Plains All American Pipeline finishes the cleanup of what they call the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard issued the joint Clean Water Act order to ensure the cleanup of heavy crude on land, at the shoreline and in the ocean, to contain the oil and to prevent further contamination.

Representatives from the two agencies said at a news conference that such an order is common in spills and is not in response to any inaction by Plains All America.

Meanwhile, the company said Wednesday it is coming closer to excavating and removing the burst section of pipeline, saying it could happen by the end of the day.

The broken pipe will then be taken to a secure location by an independent contractor under the supervision of federal regulators, company officials said at the news conference.

The spill blackened area beaches and created a 10-square-mile slick in the ocean after the onshore pipeline ruptured May 19.

Divers exploring the extent of the spill found some tar balls in seaweed on the ocean floor, but it’s not clear whether they came from the spill or natural seepage.

Some 16 birds — mostly brown pelicans — and nine marine mammals, including dolphins and sea lions, have been found dead.

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