A major oil spill off the Southern California coast was described by the mayor of Huntington Beach on Sunday as an “environmental catastrophe” after the rupture of an oil rig pipeline dumped dead fish and birds on sand and offshore wetlands was abandoned.
Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said in a press conference that an estimated 126,000 gallons, or 3,000 barrels, had spilled into the oil slick covering nearly 13 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, as it was first reported on Saturday morning. Was. The beachside town, about 40 miles south of Los Angeles, was bearing the brunt of the spill.
Carr, who called the spill a “potential ecological disaster”, said: “Our wetlands are deteriorating and parts of our coastline are now covered in oil.”
The leak was caused by a breach involving the Ely Oil Rig and stretched from the Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach, a stretch of coast popular with surfers and sunbathers.
Carr said the oil rig was operated by Beta Offshore, a California subsidiary of Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation. Calls to Beta and Amplify remained unanswered.
Carr said in his remarks: “In the days and weeks ahead, we challenge responsible parties to do everything possible to rectify this environmental catastrophe.”
Amplify Energy CEO Martin Wilsher told a press conference in Long Beach that the pipeline has now been shut down and the remaining oil has been pumped out. He said divers were still trying to find out where and why the leak happened.
U.S. Representative Michelle Steele, a Republican representing part of the affected area, sent a letter to Democratic President Joe Biden requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County, a federal fund to help with cleanup efforts. will free the money.
Oceana, an ocean conservation group, called for an end to offshore oil and gas drilling.
Oceana’s chief policy officer Jacqueline Savitz said in a statement: “This is the oil industry’s latest tragedy. The time has passed to prevent future oil spills by permanently protecting our coasts from offshore drilling.”
The spill occurred in federal waters. The Bureau of Security and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a division of the Interior Department, said in a statement that it is supporting response efforts led by the US Coast Guard.
The bureau stated that its role was “to assist in the identification of the location and source of any spill, and to provide technical assistance in preventing spillage”.
On Sunday, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said oil infiltrated a large ecological reserve, Talbert Marsh, causing “significant damage”.
Beaches were closed for swimming and a local air show was cancelled, although some people were unimpressed by setting up chairs on the beach to enjoy the sun or take a walk on the pier on Sunday.
Carr said officials have deployed 2050 feet of protective booms, which help stop and slow the oil flow.
The US Coast Guard, working with local and state agencies, flew airplanes to assess the spill and hired contractors to clean it up.
Officials said they are investigating the cause of the leak and the type of oil involved.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Additional reporting by Tim Reed and Nicola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Aurora Ellis and Daniel Wallis)