SANTA BARBARA, Calif., July 29 (UPI) -- A 3-mile long, 1/2-mile wide oil slick of mysterious origins off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., is too thin to be cleaned up and must be left to dissipate naturally, local officials said Wednesday.
The slick was first noticed by kayakers around 10 a.m. Wednesday off Goleta Beach, Santa Barbara County Fire Department Capt. Dave Zaniboni told KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara.
It's unclear what the source of the contamination is.
"We're not sure whether this is just unusual seepage. This area is prone to seepage, so we're used to seeing it. All we can say is that boaters in the area are saying it's much more than normal," Zaniboni said.
After reviewing the substance, which was leaving balls of tar on the beach, U.S. Coast Guard officials determined it was too thin to be cleaned up using conventional methods.
The incident comes two months after a Venoco underground pipeline ruptured near the Santa Barbara coast, spilling 101,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean.
"There have been no incidents at Venoco facilities," Keith Wenal, Venoco's manager of health, environment and safety, told KTLA on Wednesday.
Officials said the beach would remain open despite the oil sheen, though beachgoers were discouraged from coming into contact with the substance.