Officials involved in the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach announced Oct. 6 that they are continuing to ramp up efforts to clean up the estimated 144,000-gallon spill.
“Our priorities remain the safety of human health, the safety of our public, protection of the environment, protection of wildlife, and finding and removing oil as soon as we can detect it and as soon as we can remove it,” Rebecca Ore, Captain of the Port and Commanding Officer at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach said during an Oct. 6 press conference.
While 350 personnel are currently working across the county’s coast to manually clean up the oil, the county plans on getting 1,500 workers by the end of the week.
Martyn Willsher, CEO and president of Amplify Energy—the business that runs the pipes—said during the conference that when the company discovered the oil in the water at 8:09 a.m. Oct. 2, they were no longer pumping any oil through the pipelines. Willsher said that after discovering the oil, his team instantly radioed back to the platforms to initiate the incident response plan.
“We did not take any additional time [after discovering the leak]; we automatically instituted our incident recovery plan, and people were notified very, very quickly,” Willsher said during a press conference.
Willsher said he was unaware if metrics indicated a significant loss of pressure, but that the company will “fully investigate this.”
Regarding the lag between an alarm going off at 2:30 in the morning on Saturday and oil being discovered in the water at 8:09 am, Willsher said he had to refer media that Amplify will be fully working with investigators on the incident.
“We were not aware of any spill until 8:09 am on Saturday morning,” he added. “I promise you, if we were aware of something on Friday night, I promise you we would have immediately stopped all operations.”
Amplify does maintenance on the pipe every year, according to Willsher, with one year focusing on the external pipe and the other year focusing on the internal part of the pipe. Additionally, the team does an annual “spill drill,” involving other agencies to make it a fully integrated incident response plan. Weekly cleanings are also done on the pipe, with the last one being done on Sept. 29, and there were no abnormalities spotted, he said.
In terms of wildlife exposure to the oil, Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Team out of the University of California–Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, announced there have been 13 live birds and 2 dead birds collected by teams, with large scale operations covering beaches and water from north of Bolsa Chica down to San Onofre looking for affected animals.
Additionally, the animal care teams have collected four oiled live snowy plover birds, a federally threatened species, on Oct. 6 in Huntington Beach.
The Unified Command announced yesterday that they identified the source of the leak, a 13-inch lateral gash in the 16-inch concrete-encased pipeline, which was also displaced by approximately 105 feet.
Huntington Beach officials also closed Bolsa Chica State Beach Oct. 6 due to oil washing up on the shore. The Huntington Beach shoreline from the lifeguard tower line to the water is closed between the Santa Ana River Jetty and Warner Avenue; entering the water will remain prohibited for the time being.
Recreational fishing has also been completely restricted from the City of Dana Point to Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach from the shoreline to six miles out into the ocean until further notice.
Orange County officials have announced the closure of the Dana Point Harbor, meaning boaters will be unable to enter or exit the harbor until further notice, with impacted boaters encouraged to go to either Huntington Beach Harbor or Long Beach Harbor.
So far, approximately 5,000 gallons of oil has been cleaned up.