Major Oil Spill Off The Coast Of Southern California As 126,000 Gallons Leak Into The Pacific Causing A Major “Ecological Disaster”

Photos by: Mark Girardeau

The City of Huntington Beach has confirmed the tragic news that 126,000 gallons of oil has spilled off the coast of Southern California.

According to a press conference by the 
U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the oil spill originated from a broken pipeline less than three miles off the coast of Huntington Beach connected to the offshore oil Platform Elly.

Amplify Energy Corp, which owns Platform Elly and two other offshore oil platforms, said it stopped operations and shut down the pipeline to prevent further leakage.

In coordination with other Federal, State, and local agencies, the city has continued assessment and mitigation efforts in response to the spill that has substantial ecological impacts occurring in and around the Huntington Beach Wetlands and on the beach. 

In response, Huntington Beach Fire and Marine Safety personnel have been deployed throughout the day to implement environmental containment efforts. Sadly, it is being reported that dead birds and fish have been washing up on shore.

“The ramifications will extend further than the visible oil and odor that our residents are dealing with at the moment. The impact to the environment is irreversible,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, in a statement. “Our beaches are an integral part of our culture and economy, popular tourist destinations, and a California staple. We must protect our families, ocean, and coastal habitat.”

It is estimated that 3,000 barrels of oil have spread over an area covering 13 square miles off the Orange County coast that runs from the Huntington Beach Pier down into Newport Beach.

Both cities have also issued a beach advisory asking residents and visitors to avoid contact with ocean water and areas of the beach impacted by the oil. Laguna Beach closed city beaches late Sunday in anticipation of oil reaching the shore overnight.

Minimizing damage and impacts to the City’s sensitive wetlands and marine environment are of the utmost importance. Skimming equipment and booms were deployed to prevent the inflow of oil into the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has also set up the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline at (877) 823-6926 for individuals to call if anyone sees wildlife impacted by the oil spill.

The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead agency coordinating the response to the oil spill incident, and the investigation into how the spill occurred.

In order to facilitate clean-up coordination efforts, and given the potential health impacts from the ongoing situation, the decision was made by City leadership to cancel the Pacific Airshow on Sunday.

The following are additional rescue centers that you may contact if you see wildlife impacted by the spill:

Pacific Marine Mammal Center at (949) 494-3050

Wetlands and Wildlife Center at (714) 374-5587

WAN will continue to update this developing story.

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