California Oil Spill Threatens Economy, Tourism and Wildlife

On Saturday, October 2, 2021, an oil pipeline leaked more than 127,000 gallons of crude oil (3,111 barrels) into the Pacific Ocean near Orange County, California. By Monday morning, an oil slick had spread across an area of the ocean equivalent to roughly 8,320 acres or 13 miles. Classified as a major spill, the oil has not only added to a growing Pacific Ocean pollution problem, but it has also caused widespread damage to many tourist-friendly beaches and killed a wide range of marine and other wildlife.

When Did the Spill Start?

No one knows precisely when the leak began. During the afternoon on Friday, October 1, residents and others in Orange County near the coast reported smelling foul odors in the air, including oil, diesel and raw meat. On Saturday, people swimming and sailing, including the mayor of Newport Beach, found themselves moving through oil slicks. By that evening, Huntington Beach residents and visitors observed oil washing onto beaches and polluting nearby marshes and wetlands.

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