Santa Barbara Oil Spill: Dramatic Images

A pipeline ruptured off Santa Barbara, California.

— -- California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara today after a ruptured pipeline off the coast leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean.

The leak was first reported around noon on Tuesday when an onshore pipeline broke, allowing crude to reach a storm drain that empties into the ocean. At least two oil slicks that when combined cover approximately nine miles of the Santa Barbara coast have been identified by the Coast Guard.

The cause of the rupture is not yet known but Coast Guard crews were able to stop the leak by 3 p.m., authorities said. The pipeline was inspected a few weeks ago but results haven't been released.

Nearby Refugio State Beach was evacuated and officials did not say if the beach would be re-opened in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The pipeline was built in 1991 by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil.

“Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact,” the company said in a statement.

The spill occurred along the same stretch of coastline that was decimated in a 1969 spill that helped spark the modern day environmental movement.