Oil spill off Newport Beach covers 13 square miles

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A major oil spill off the Orange County coast hit Huntington Beach Saturday night, resulting in coastal closures and emergency measures to protect the area’s ecological reserves, wetlands and marshes.

The oil spill is believed to have originated from a pipeline leak that poured 126,000 gallons into the coastal waters and seeped into the Talbert Swamp when lifeguards deployed floating barriers known as booms to stop further break-ins, Jennifer Carey said , Huntington Beach City Spokeswoman.

“We consider this a major exit and addressing environmental concerns is a high priority,” said Carey. “All hands are on deck.”

Oil has already washed up on Huntington Beach and “we have started finding dead birds and fish that are washing up on the shore.” tweeted Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose district is Huntington Beach.

The oil spill has already resulted in more fuel entering the water than in 2007 in San Francisco Bay, when the cargo ship Cosco Busan hit the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in thick fog. This poured 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay, resulting in the documented death of more than 6,800 dead birds.

On Sunday morning, oil was still spilling about five miles off the coast of Huntington Beach from a broken pipeline connecting to an offshore oil rig called Elly, Foley. was connected wrote. Foley said Brad Avery, Mayor of Newport Beach told her that “he hit the oil spill in his boat… on the way back from Catalina. He saw dolphins swimming through the oil. “

Areas just off the coast of Southern California are an important source of oil. The Elly platform, located in federal waters off the coast of Los Angeles County, was installed in 1980 and processes crude oil production from two other platforms. Elly sits on top of a large reservoir of crude oil called Beta Field, located on waters that are monitored by the US Department of the Interior.

In one opinion Issued just before 1 a.m. on Sunday, Huntington Beach officials said more work would need to be done after sunrise to fix the leak.

“Although the leak has not yet been completely repaired, preliminary patching work has been completed to fix the oil spill. Further repair efforts will be made in the morning, ”announced the city. “Currently, due to the toxicity caused by the leak, the city requests that all persons stay away from the beach and avoid contact with oiled areas.”

Officials said they would not find out the extent of the damage until sunrise. However, the spill has already caused “significant environmental impacts” on the beach and wetland, Huntington Beach officials said.

The last day of the three-day Pacific Airshow scheduled for Sunday has been canceled. At this year’s air show there were overflights by the US Navy Blue Angels, the US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

“The need for immediate and intense intervention efforts calls for full and unrestricted access to the marine environment,” Huntington Beach officials said in a statement.

Officials said they identified a 5.8 mile long oil cloud running roughly from Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach.

Huntington Beach was closed from the pier on the Santa Ana River to the pier.

The Coast Guard received an initial report of an oil spill about three miles off the coast of Newport Beach on Saturday at around 9:10 a.m. Workers locked the pipeline and deployed pressure equipment to recover as much oil as possible shortly after the incident was reported, said Kate Conrad of Beta Offshore, a Southern California oil producer involved in the operation.

“We were alerted quickly,” she said.

The Coast Guard has established a unified command with Beta Offshore and the Office of Spill Prevention and Response of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Supporting agencies are the cities of Long Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

People are asked not to contact potentially affected wildlife because “they can do more harm than good to animals” and instead call the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926, said Eric Laughlin, a spokesman from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A network crew was mobilized for necessary rescue and renovation work.

“Members of the public should avoid the oiled shoreline as the area is unsafe and should only be cleaned by trained contractors,” said Laughlin.

Newport Beach resident Kerry Keating said she and other neighbors began to smell a “terrible and strong” tarry smell Friday night, and several people on the Nextdoor neighborhood network also reported hearing a loud bang.

“We are all very concerned about marine life,” Keating wrote in an email.

In Huntington Beach, fire fighters used booms to prevent seawater from entering the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and wetlands, Carey said.

At a press conference late Saturday evening, local officials expressed deep concern about the environmental impact of the oil spill, hoping workers could prevent the oil from hitting sensitive wetlands.

“We have worked with our federal, state and county partners to mitigate the effects that could represent a potential ecological disaster,” Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr told reporters.

The incident comes more than 30 years after a huge oil spill hit the Orange County coast.

On the afternoon of February 7, 1990, the oil tanker American Trader came over anchor in the relatively shallow waters off Huntington Beach, spilling nearly 417,000 gallons of crude oil and polluting popular beaches along the Orange County coast. The oil killed fish and around 3,400 birds.

In 2015, an oil pipeline north of Santa Barbara broke and sent 143,000 gallons of crude oil to Refugio State Beach, some of which ended up at sea. Tar balls from the leak were found as far as Manhattan Beach.

This oil spill forced the closure of the state beaches of Refugio and El Capitan and covered waves, rocky coasts, sandy beaches and kelp forests with oil. According to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, which was involved in the recovery effort, 204 birds and 106 marine mammals died as a result of the pollution.

A Santa Barbara County grand jury later indicted Plains All American Pipeline on 46 criminal cases, including four charges of deliberate discharge of a pollutant into state waters. The company agreed to pay more than $ 60 million and change its business operations to resolve a lawsuit related to the oil spill.

In recent years there has been debate over whether the government should allow new oil wells off the California coast. No new offshore oil wells have been approved in federal waters off the state’s coast since 1984.

The Trump administration proposed opening up offshore oil and natural gas reserves, including the waters off California, for exploration.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Proposed a bill in January that would permanently prohibit the Home Office from authorizing new leases for the exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas off the coast of California, Oregon and. to enable Washington.

The worst oil spill in California history occurred in 1969 after an oil rig burst, causing 4.2 million gallons of crude oil to leak off Santa Barbara. Crude oil gushed out of the crack at a rate of 1,000 gallons per hour for a month before it could be slowed down; Thousands of birds, fish and marine mammals died.

The 1969 offshore oil spill was the worst in the country until the Exxon Valdez drained 11 million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Alaska in 1989. This oil spill stained the beaches black and resulted in the bodies of seals and dolphins washing up with the tides.

The largest marine oil spill in US history resulted in 134 million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion in 2010 rocked the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.

The San Francisco Bay Area recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the devastating 1971 oil spill that dumped 800,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay. The leak occurred after two oil tankers collided in thick fog. Thousands of birds died.



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