‘There’s tar everywhere’: large California oil spill fouls beaches and kills wildlife – The Guardian

One of the largest oil spills in recent Southern California history fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands.

At least 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of oil spilled into the waters off Orange county, according to a statement from the city of Huntington Beach.

“The spill has significantly affected Huntington Beach, with substantial ecological impacts occurring at the beach and at the Huntington Beach Wetlands,” the statement said.

The oil created a miles-wide sheen in the ocean and washed ashore in sticky, black globules along with dead birds and fish. Crews led by the US Coast Guard deployed skimmers and floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further incursion into the wetlands and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

The closure stretched from the Huntington Beach Pier nearly 4 miles (6.4 km) south to the Santa Ana River jetty amid summer-like weather that would have brought beachgoers to the wide strand for volleyball, swimming and surfing.

Officials canceled the final day of the annual Pacific Air Show that typically draws thousands of spectators to Huntington Beach, a city of about 199,000 residents about 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

The oil slick originated from a broken pipeline connected to an offshore oil platform known as Elly, Orange county supervisor Katrina Foley said on Twitter.

Foley said the Newport Beach mayor, Brad Avery, told her that he encountered the oil slick while in a boat traveling back to the mainland from Santa Catalina Island. “He saw dolphins swimming thru the oil,” Foley tweeted.

The spill comes three decades after a massive oil leak hit the same stretch of Orange county coast. On 7 February 1990, the oil tanker American Trader ran over its anchor off Huntington Beach, spilling nearly 417,000 gallons of crude. Fish and about 3,400 birds were killed.

In 2015, a ruptured pipeline north of Santa Barbara sent 143,000 gallons of crude oil gushing onto Refugio State Beach.

Huntington State Beach is home to a number of species of birds, including gulls, willet, long-billed fletcher, elegant teens and reddish egret, which are a rarity on the west coast, according to Ben Smith, a biologist and environmental consultant for Orange county.

Smith drove to the beach Sunday to observe wildlife ahead of a construction project planned at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, which flows into the ocean at the border of Huntington State Beach and Newport Beach.

“There’s tar everywhere,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “You think by now we would have figured out how to keep this kind of thing from happening, but I guess not.”

Original News Source Link

Leave a Comment