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Oil Spill Taints Mexican Beaches

May 15, 1999

ROSARITO, Mexico (AP) _ A fuel transfer between a tanker and an onshore facility led to a spill of an estimated 110,000 gallons of oil, fouling the beaches of Baja California, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The oil leaked out of a pipeline carrying the fuel from a Chevron-owned vessel to the Petroleos Mexicanos facility about 50 miles south of San Diego. Some 200 members of the Mexican Navy helped a U.S. contractor clean up area beaches Friday.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Jamie Devitt-Chacon said there was ``significant impact,″ but details of any damage were not immediately available.

The spill happened Thursday about 1 1/2 miles from shore, the Coast Guard said.

The state-owned oil monopoly Pemex shut down the operation when they noticed a problem with the 16-inch pipeline some two hours after the transfer began, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard officials were notified of the spill Friday by the contractor. Mexican officials told the Coast Guard the spill was contained and no cleanup help was necessary, said Lt. Jean Donaldson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

The exact volume of the spill was unknown, but it was estimated to be up to 109,200 gallons based on the number of barrels that still had oil in them, she said.

Coast Guard officials were flying over the area to assess whether oil might reach beaches in the United States.

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