A California underwater pipeline could be damaged for up to a year before a devastating oil spill that closed some of the state’s famous beaches.
Coast Guard investigators say after the first strike it is possible that other ships’ anchors also collided with a pipeline that brought oil to the shore.
A large portion of the pipeline, off Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles, collided with its original location and was pulled along the ocean.
Officials say they do not know when the oil leaked from a 13-inch crack in the pipe and have yet to identify any particular cargo ship as the prime suspect.
“We’re going to be looking at every vessel movement on that pipeline and every close encroachment from anchor for the entire course of the year,” said Coast Guard Captain Jason Neubauer, head of the Office of Investigation and Analysis.
The pipeline is located outside the Long Beach-Los Angeles port, which is the largest in the country and handles 4,000 cargo ships a year from around the world.
Captain Neubauer said investigators are limiting their search to ships that are large enough to move the 4,000 feet of pipeline.
Officials believe the initial anchor strike happened after a survey of the pipeline a year ago when it was still in its original location.
Ramanan Krishnamurthy, professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Houston, said the crack in the pipeline, which was built in 1980, suggests it had suffered an initial impact, but weakened over time and led to its failure. was more likely.
The Coast Guard estimates that between 25,000 gallons and 132,000 gallons of oil spilled in the incident, resulting in the death of 10 birds, and the treatment of 25 more.
Although some Orange County beaches have now reopened, the public is still not allowed back into the ocean.
According to the Associated Press, since 1986 there have been at least 17 incidents of oil pipelines being affected by an anchor strike.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / California