The breach, reported Saturday, occurred about five miles off the coast of Huntington Beach in Orange County, equivalent to an estimated 3,000 barrels – or 126,000 gallons – of post-production crude, local officials said.
Officials said at a news conference on Sunday that divers were inspecting a 17-mile pipeline to determine the exact source of the leak, but the leak has stopped.
Sections of the shoreline at Huntington Beach were closed on Saturday, with Mayor Kim Carr describing the spill as a “potential ecological disaster” on Sunday.
“In a year that has been fraught with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill is one of the most devastating situations our community has dealt with in decades,” Carr said. “We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors and our natural habitats.”
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said on Sunday that dead birds and fish were washing up on the shore.
The US Coast Guard (USCG) said Sunday night that more than 3,000 gallons of oil had been removed from the water.
According to the USCG, “Fourteen boats carried out an oil recovery operation on Sunday afternoon… Four aircraft were sent for an overflight assessment. A shore response was carried out by 105 government agency personnel.”
The reason for the leak under investigation
Wilser said the company is working with several local, state and federal agencies on recovery efforts.
“Our employees live and work in these communities, and we are all deeply affected and concerned about the impact not only on the environment, but on fish and wildlife as well,” Wilser said. “We will do everything in our power to make sure this is fixed as soon as possible, and we will not do so until this conclusion is reached.”
Wilser said his company notified the Coast Guard on Saturday morning when workers were conducting line inspections and noticed a glow in the water.
Wilser said the facilities operating the pipeline were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s and are inspected every other year, including during pandemics.
Wilser said the pipeline is “suctioned at both ends to keep excess crude out”, and he does not expect any more oil to be released.
The cause of the leak is unknown.
“We are still conducting an assessment to try and find the source,” Eric Lafin, a public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told a news conference on Sunday. , but we are still working on identifying it.”
The federal Bureau of Security, Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), told Granthshala it was assisting in the USCG-led response to the oil spill.
In a statement on Sunday, the BSEE said its role was “to assist in identifying the location and source of any spill and providing technical assistance to the Integrated Command in preventing spillage.”
impact on human health
In a health advisory, County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chow for the Orange County Health Care Agency said the effects of exposure to the oil can vary and anyone experiencing adverse symptoms should consult their doctor. should contact.
“Even when an oil luster may not be visible, there may still be dispersed and dissolved oil contaminants present in the water,” Chou said.
The agency said symptoms of excessive exposure to the oil or dispersant can include skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, vomiting or shortness of breath.
“Inhalation of toxic oil vapors or other aerosolized oil compound particles from airborne waves can cause these side effects. The elderly, children, and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma are more vulnerable to adverse side effects from inhaling the oil vapors. will be sensitive,” the agency said.
Granthshala’s Sonnet Swire, Claudia Dominguez and Cheri Mossberg contributed to this report.
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