A massive oil spill caused by a leak from an underwater pipeline has dispersed about 126,000 gallons of crude into the Southern California ocean, killing wildlife and closing area beaches.
The leak, reported on Saturday morning, happened on an offshore platform about five miles off Huntington Beach in Southern California. It has created an oil expanse of about 8,320 acres, per the Los Angeles Times, and has seeped into an ecological preserve in Huntington Beach. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration informed the owner of the pipeline, Amplify Energy, that an anchor may have caught and moved the tube.
“The pipeline has essentially been pulled like a bow string,” Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said in a press conference on Tuesday. “And so at its widest point is about 105 feet away from where it was. So it is kind of an almost a semicircle.”
Dead birds and fish began washing onto the shore over the weekend, and many area beaches, including in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, closed to the public. Orange County health officials put out an advisory telling people who had experienced “adverse symptoms” as a result of the oil to seek medical attention. Oil is expected to keep washing ashore in the area for several days.
The pipeline has been switched off, and the Amplify Energy’s CEO Martyn Willsher said on Sunday that the leaking had stopped. The Coast Guard, which is attempting to help clean up the mess, said that more than 3,000 gallons had been removed from the water so far. But crews are still trying to determine where the breach originally occurred on the pipeline, which stretches 17 miles, and what caused it.
“In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades,” Huntington Beach mayor Kim Carr said.