The Latest on SoCal's Massive Oil Spill
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Orange County in response to a massive oil spill reported Saturday off the coast of Huntington Beach. Orange County Rep. Michelle Steel has also requested a major disaster declaration from President Joe Biden.
Around 127,000 gallons of crude oil has leaked from a 17-mile pipeline into the Pacific, according to Amplify Energy's CEO. Officials say it appears the leak has stopped.
Oil from the pipeline infiltrated Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre ecological reserve in Huntington Beach that dozens of bird species call home. Dead and dying animals have been washing ashore since Saturday.
“In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. “Rest assured that the team in Huntington Beach mobilized quickly, and we are proactively responding. We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors and our natural habitats.”
“This has devastated our California coastline in Orange County, and it's having a tremendous impact on our ecological preserves as well as our economics," said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley. "We need answers and the public deserves answers."
The U.S. Coast Guard is looking into the cause of the spill. One theory is that a cargo ship’s anchor may have struck the pipeline.
As authorities try to determine the source, there are new questions about who knew what and when. Records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times indicate that state and federal officials had strong indications of oil in the water Friday evening, over 10 hours before it was reported to authorities. The Orange County Health Care Agency is now urging residents who were possibly exposed to contaminants to seek immediate medical attention. The Times is also reporting that the owner of the offshore oil operation had a history of noncompliance violations.
Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach waters are closed, while residents and visitors are urged to avoid going into the water in Newport Beach. According to Mayor Karr, beach closures could last up to weeks or months.