Even in late September and early October, Huntington Beach’s balmy weather means a plethora of beachcombers, numerous beach blankets in use, and beach umbrellas spot the shore of the Orange County beach. However, a weekend spill from an underground pipe has the usually busy beach scene looking like a ghost town.
Crews are frantically working to not only prevent an oil spill that happened just outside Orange County, CA from spreading into protected wildlife areas, but they’re working to save waterfowl that have already been affected by the spill. The spill that took place on Sunday dumped at least 126,000 gallons of oil. The spill has closed an area from the Huntington Beach Pier to the Santa Ana River jetty.Read More »
Typically, this stretch of Huntington Beach would be busy with beachcombers playing volleyball, swimming, and surfers, too. Today, however, the beach is silent as the crews scramble to prevent the oil spill from spreading further. Currently, Coast Guard crews are using skimmers and lowering booms to try to prevent any further spread of an already-large oil slick. Pictures of the scene display large globs of black tar washing ashore along with the affected wildlife.
A major event was cancelled today due to the oil spill; the annual Pacific Air Show normally takes place on the Huntington Beach shores. However, the area was eerily quiet as the normal thousands of guests were missing due to the beach closure and the cancellation of the event.
Orange County officials noted that the spill is thought to have originated with an offshore oil platform nicknamed “Elly.” The Newport Beach mayor, Brad Avery, alerted an Orange County supervisor that he personally encountered the oil slick outside Huntington while traveling from Santa Catalina Island. He related that he had observed dolphins swimming through the oil. It is believed that the Elly platform experienced a broken pipeline, which resulted in the spillage.
However, Avery was not the only person to observe something amiss. Residents of Huntington Beach and people who travel to work in the area reported the “heavy” smell of “petroleum” as well as the presence of an oil sheen on Friday evening. By Saturday afternoon, the local coast guard confirmed an oil slick was present. The parent company of the platforms shut down the pipelines associated with the Elly pipeline and Ellen platform. In addition, the company suctioned out any remaining oil from those pipelines to prevent the spillage of more oil than had already been lost.
The platform has numerous pipelines running from the drilling site; the one that has broken was about one hundred feet underwater. The pipeline in question is 17.5 miles in length. It is not known how the break in the pipe occurred. The platform is located in federal waters outside of Huntington Beach, and another platform is also present. Both platforms are owned by the Amplify Energy Company of Houston, TX.
In addition to the “booms” which the Coast Guard and the public works employees have deployed, divers have been going to the affected pipeline in order to determine where the pipe broke and why it broke. This took place while teams onshore worked to save as many animals as possible. There is no current count of animals that have been lost nor any figure of how many animals have been rescued.
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