An initial investigation into one of the largest oil spills in California’s history appears to show evidence that an underwater pipeline was damaged by a ship’s anchor near Orange County, U.S. Coast Guard officials reported.
As cleanup efforts continue for last week’s spill, Jason Neubauer, chief of the office of investigations and analysis for the U.S. Coast Guard, said that officials are working to determine when the approximately 600,000 litres of heavy crude began leaking into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Huntington Beach. Some officials suggest that the leak may have been occurring for months, or even longer.
Tar balls and patties from the oil are being carried onto the shoreline, some reaching as far as San Diego County, local officials reported.
A 13-inch split was found in a 4,000-foot section of pipeline owned by Amplify Energy, now the target of a class-action lawsuit by a group of beachside business owners. The pipe has since been suctioned out to prevent further leaks while cleanup efforts continue.
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The state has deployed personnel from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to the incident command in Long Beach to closely coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard. Unified Command stated that they anticipate having 1,500 people supporting the cleanup efforts by the end of last week.
Huntington Beach officials announced that nearby Talbert Marsh is experiencing serious impacts due to the oil spill. Booms are still in place to keep additional oil out of the wetlands. They said aerators will be installed to supplement oxygen due to the lack of water flow from the ocean.
At this time, 35 oiled birds have been found and are being cleaned. Unfortunately, at least 10 oiled birds have died.
“The city is also working with water quality experts to take regular samples of the water along our coast and inlets to determine the level of contaminants that are associated with the oil spill. As this effort gets underway, detailed information will be made available on this site,” Huntington Beach officials said in a statement.