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California Oil Spill: Up to a Fifth of Leaked Oil Recovered, Company Says

As much as 20 percent of the oil that gushed into the California waters has been recovered, company officials said Sunday.

As much as 20 percent of the oil that gushed into the waters along 9 miles of the California coast has been recovered, officials of the oil company who pipeline ruptured last week said Sunday as they prepared to extract the broken pipe from the ground.

Officials of Plains All American Pipeline LP said more sophisticated assessments indicated that slightly less oil leaked beginning Tuesday at Refugio State Beach west of Santa Barbara than had been previously thought — about 4,000 gallons less than the 105,000 gallons that had been reported since Thursday.

"The current estimate of the worst-case volume release is now approximately 2,400 barrels, or 101,000 gallons," the company said Sunday. "Our efforts to recover oil from the pipeline are ongoing, and all calculations remain under review."

About 18,900 to 21,000 gallons of the oil have already been recovered, on their way to a sealed storage location, Plains said. The company said it's ready to start extracting the broken section of pipe from the ground after it completed draining oil still inside it, an operation that took longer than expected.

Meanwhile, two more sea lions and two elephant seals sickened in the oil spill were being rescued were being cared for Sunday at SeaWorld San Diego, NBC Los Angeles reported. The first oil-slicked sea lion that was taken to SeaWorld died Saturday.

The cause of the spill remains unknown, investigators and company officials said. Plains Chief Executive Greg Armstrong apologized for the spill Saturday but told NBC News that, overall, "we're pleased with our safety record."first one-on-one interview since the spill.