Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 24, 2016

Contact:  Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

Shell Pipeline in Northern California Has History of Oil Spills, Documents Show

TRACY, Calif.— A Shell pipeline that just spilled at least 21,000 gallons of oil near the Northern California city of Tracy has leaked at least twice before in the past year, according to state documents uncovered by the Center for Biological Diversity.

A September 2015 leak from this pipeline released more than 21,000 gallons of oil approximately half a mile from the current spill site, a report from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services shows. The same line leaked again in November as the company was making repairs and doing testing to address the September leak.

“This pipeline’s disturbing history of oil spills requires immediate action from regulators,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. “Shell’s leaky pipeline should not be allowed to resume pumping oil without officials taking a hard look at this entire line to see if corrosion or poor maintenance might be contributing to these problems. Pipeline leaks are just too dangerous to shrug off.”

A Plains All American pipeline rupture in Santa Barbara County last year spilled more than 120,000 gallons of oil onto the California coast, killing hundreds of birds and marine animals.

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned by the Center showed there have been nearly 8,000 serious pipeline breaks nationwide since 1986, causing more than 2,300 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage.

The vast majority of those incidents have involved oil pipelines, spilling more than 2 million barrels – or 84 million gallons -- into waterways and on the ground over the past 30 years. More than 35 percent of these incidents have been caused by corrosion or other spontaneous structural failures.

Since 1986, pipeline accidents in the United States have spilled an average of 3 million gallons of oil or other hazardous liquids per year.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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