HUNTINGTON BEACH (CNS) – The City of Huntington Beach and California State Parks announced that they will reopen their city and state beaches on Monday morning.
The joint decision to reopen the beaches at 6 a.m. on Monday comes after water quality test results showed undetectable levels of oil-related toxins in seawater, Huntington Beach Police spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said.
“The health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance. We understand the importance of our beaches to tourism, our economy and our livelihoods here in Huntington Beach, ”said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. “It is important that our decision to reopen our coastline and water is based on data and that we continue to monitor water quality in the future.”
Officials continued to warn the public not to handle balls of tar they might encounter in the sand. Oil contains dangerous chemicals, and beach goers who encounter balls of tar are encouraged to email [email protected] In the event of skin contact, it is recommended to wash the area with soap and water or baby oil and avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, or similar products on the skin. Officials say these products, when applied to the skin, pose a greater health risk than the tar ball itself.
According to data provided by the Unified Command, which is doing the cleanup, on Sunday afternoon:
- More than 1,600 people perform reaction operations
- To date, a total of 5,544 gallons of crude oil have been recovered by ship
- 13.6 barrels of tar balls were recovered on Saturday
- Approximately 250,000 pounds of oily debris was recovered from the coast
- Two overflights were planned for Sunday
- 11,400 feet of containment booms were strategically deployed
The Unified Command is led by the U.S. Coast Guard and also includes officials from Orange County, San Diego County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Amplify Energy Corp. – Owner of the damaged pipeline through which the oil leaked.
Contracted cleaning teams cleaned sites from Seal Beach to San Onofre Beach, while officials conducted water and soil samples on San Onofre Beach on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network reported that by Sunday, its responders had recovered 58 spilled species, 50 birds and eight fish. Twenty-six of the birds were recovered alive, but all eight fish were dead.
The organization conducted a major recovery from Long Beach Harbor to Oceanside, stabilized the field at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, and supplied the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center – home of the International Bird Rescue.
“Absolutely amazing and makes me so proud of everything we have developed together to react quickly and in a coordinated manner wherever oil can be oiled.” That said OWCN director Michael Ziccardi.
Officials said no oiled wildlife was found in San Diego County. For the latest information on wildlife, visit owcn.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/pipeline-p00547-incident.
The leak was reported a few miles off the coast of Huntington Beach on the morning of October 2, although some boaters reported smelling something in the water on Friday.
Authorities originally estimated that up to 144,000 gallons of oil could have leaked from the damaged pipeline, but officials said Thursday the actual amount is likely much lower, although there is still no fixed number. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, USCG Capt. Rebecca Ore reported that approximately 588 barrels of oil had leaked, which would be about 24,700 gallons. That counts as the minimum amount that has been leaked, but officials were unsure of a possible maximum number.
Crews responded to the leak last Saturday morning and the beaches were quickly closed when authorities realized the size and extent of the oil spill.
Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher insisted the company was unaware of an oil spill into the ocean until about 8 a.m. Saturday, adding that the company responded and reported the incident immediately.
The US Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety for Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety issued a corrective action on Tuesday stating that workers in the company’s control room “received a low pressure alarm in the San Pedro Bay pipeline pointing to a possible Outage at around 2am indicates: 30pm Saturday, “but the crude oil pipeline did not close until around 6am on Saturday.
When asked repeatedly about this schedule during a media briefing on Wednesday in Huntington Beach, Willsher simply said the company is fully cooperating with state and local investigators
“We work with them and give them all the transparency and information we have,” said Willsher.
He said whether there was an alarm alerting the crews of a pressure drop. “We’re doing a full investigation … to see if anything should have been noticed.”
Willsher said his company was also unaware of reports of an oil sighting in the water as early as 6 p.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard’s chief investigator said Friday that the ruptured underwater pipeline could have been damaged a few months to a year ago, adding that it was unclear when the crack occurred or when oil seeped into the water.
The reveal marks a major change in the investigation into the cause of the leak.
Captain Jason Neubauer told reporters Friday that the underwater video of the damaged pipeline shows “marine growth” around the 13-inch crack in the pipeline that was exposed when the concrete casing was torn away, likely by the blow of a ship’s anchor that caught it the line and pulled it 105 feet out of position.
Investigators analyzed the degree of ripeness of the vegetation to provide an indication of when the pipeline was first hit and lost its protective concrete coating.
The presence of marine vegetation on the exposed pipe “reduced the … time frame of our investigation to at least several months to a year,” said Neubauer.
He said a routine inspection of the pipeline carried out by Amplify Energy last October showed no damage. Investigators also investigated the possibility that a winter storm from Jan. 24-25 may have contributed to the positioning of the ship’s anchors in the area.
It is also unclear when exactly the crack occurred in the pipeline. Neubauer said the pipe may not have cracked when it was originally pulled from its position and stripped of its concrete coating. Or there may have been a small crack that gradually grew larger over time, leading to the 13-inch gap now present in the pipe.
Neubauer also said the pipeline may have been hit multiple times over the past year, and investigators also investigated whether the recent earthquakes may have contributed to the damage.
Divers hired to investigate the source of the leak confirmed that a 4,000-foot section of the 17.7-mile pipeline had been moved up to 105 feet and a 13-inch “gap” in the pipeline Displacement was discovered section 4 1/2 miles offshore.
Willsher said the pipeline was a 16-inch steel pipe covered in concrete, suggesting it would take a lot of force to move and tear. He said the pipeline was “pulled like a bowstring,” which believes the possibility of a ship’s anchor catching and dragging the line.
The National Transportation Safety Board will also conduct an investigation coordinated with the Coast Guard to avoid layoffs, said Andrew Ehlers, the investigation’s lead investigator.
The oil spill occurred in federal waters at the Elly oil rig, which was built to process crude oil from two other platforms that came from a large reservoir called Beta Field. Elly is one of three platforms operated by Beta Operating Co., which is owned by Amplify Energy and also operates Ellen and Eureka nearby. Elly processes the oil production from Ellen and Eureka and is fed by around 70 oil wells. The processing platform separates oil from water.
Elly is one of 23 oil and gas rigs installed in federal waters off the coast of Southern California, according to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. In addition to Elly, a processing facility, there are 20 more producing oil and gas, and two are being shut down.
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, cited a letter signed by 77 other members of Congress on Friday calling on House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to stop Ensuring the Build Back Better Act continues to prohibit all new state oil and gas leasing off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Levin is also behind the American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act, which would prohibit any new leases for oil wells along the Southern California coast from San Diego to San Luis Obispo County.
Representatives Linda Sanchez, D-Norwalk, and Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, also signed the letter.
Community members affected by the spill and needing to file a claim can call 1-866-985-8366. Owners of ships affected by the leak are urged not to clean their own boats or to use soaps or dispersants.
For the latest information on fishing closures, please visit socalspillresponse.com/fisheries-closure/.