On September 28, 1997, a discharge of crude oil occurred from a rupture in a 20-inch pipeline owned or operated by Torch Operating Company, Nuevo Energy Company, and Black Hawk Oil & Gas Company. The pipeline runs from the offshore oil platform, Platform Irene, to a processing facility onshore north of the City of Lompoc, on Harris Grade Road in Santa Barbara County. This pipeline transports an emulsion of crude oil and water from Platform Irene to the onshore facility.
At the time of the Spill, in addition to oil and production water, the pipeline contained approximately 900 gallons of diesel and 800 gallons of anti-corrosion chemical compounds. The Spill released at least 163 barrels (or 6,846 gallons) of the petroleum product into the Pacific Ocean. Subsequent movement of the petroleum resulted in fouling of approximately 17 miles of northern Santa Barbara County coastline, and caused impacts to a variety of natural resources including seabirds and shoreline habitats. The degree of oiling varied along the affected coastline, with the most heavily oiled area being Surf Beach on Vandenberg Air Force Base.