By: Emma Magit — Correspondent
As our environment continues to be contaminated by unnatural intruders, a catastrophic oil spill affecting parts of California’s coastline and ecological landscape is not something the federal government needs added to its already full plate.
An oil spill was detected in Southern California on October 2, 2021, originating from a breach in an underwater pipeline. It is estimated that around 144,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean. The spill created a 13 square-mile slick extending from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach. The specific cause of the breach, and the resulting spill, is currently unknown and being investigated.
Mayor Kim Carr of Huntington Beach says in a news conference that the spill was devastating. “The spill was one of the most devastating situations our community has dealt with in decades,” she said.
Sharon High School Environmental Science teacher, Ms. Burke, says the economy in the area may suffer for a while. “As for the local communities and their economy, it will be difficult for a while because the California coastline brings in a lot of tourism money. That is where locals will feel the biggest impact from oil washing ashore. Beaches will need to be cleaned up and temporarily closed on and off for a while. This will affect those living along the coast and the businesses in those areas” she said.
Carr says they will do anything they can to hold those responsible accountable. “The responsible parties should do everything possible to rectify this environmental catastrophe. Officials were looking at measures to make sure that they are held accountable for this,” she said.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta says he is not sure whether the investigation will prompt a criminal or civil action. He says the state Justice Department is fully prepared to get to the bottom of what happened. “The state Justice Department is prepared to do what is necessary to get a full accounting of what happened, how it happened, who did what when and fully reveal the facts and circumstances of this incident,” he said.
A supervisor for Orange County, Katrina Foley, says that many species of birds and other animals are harmed by the spill and the environment cannot come back from this. “The impact to the environment is irreversible,” she said.
Bonta says there is a horrific lasting impact on the area. “But that doesn’t mitigate the horrific, lasting impact of this disaster, a disaster that we know has far-reaching consequences on our fish, on our wildlife, for our communities, and for our economy,” Bonta said.
Mayor Brad Avery of Newport Beach said that he was traveling from Catalina Island to Newport Beach when he saw a pod of beautiful dolphins and then seconds later he saw the slick. “To our dismay, all of a sudden, we were in this big patch of oil. It was very thick. It was sort of a moment where we have this beautiful nature, and then this man-made disaster,” he stated.
Martyn Willsher, CEO of pipeline operator Amplify Energy Corp, says the damage may have been from a ship anchor. “Damage from a ship anchor is one of the distinct possibilities. We are moving very close to the source of the cause of this incident,” he said.
After beaches along the affected coastline were closed for nine days and with the cleaning of the water by the Coast Guard, the City of Huntington Beach says on Twitter that they will reopen the beaches. “Huntington Beach City & State beaches will reopen tomorrow (10/11) at 6 AM. The joint decision to reopen comes after ocean water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water,” said the tweet.