In September of 1968, Union Oil Company of California, which later became Unocal and is now part of Chevron, erected a drilling platform off the coast near Santa Barbara. Over the next four months, four wells were constructed. Work on a fifth had begun and was proceeding uneventfully until, on January 28, 1969, the new well suffered a blowout. It took ten days’ effort before it was finally plugged, with cement slurry. By the time the flow had stopped completely, an estimated hundred thousand barrels of oil had poured into the Santa Barbara Channel. The slick it created covered eight hundred square miles. The area’s fishing industry was shut down, and pictures of blackened beaches filled the news.