Huntington Beach Oil Spill Causes Ecologic Damage – NBC Los Angeles


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Enrique Roman/NBCLA

A massive oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach dumped at least 126,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean between Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, 2021. Officials urged residents to avoid beaches due to health risks posed by the oil.


Enrique Roman/NBCLA

The ecologic disaster began Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, and by Sunday morning had spread to cover 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The pipeline was no longer leaking oil by Sunday afternoon, but significant damage was done before the leak was stopped. Here, seagulls eat fish that washed up onshore after the spill off the coast of Huntington Beach.


Enrique Roman/NBCLA

“The spill has significantly affected Huntington Beach, with substantial ecological impacts occurring at the beach and at the Huntington Beach Wetlands,” a statement from the City of Huntington Beach said. It also affected the Talbert Marshlands and the Santa Ana River Trail.


Enrique Roman/NBCLA

Skimming equipment and booms were deployed to prevent the inflow of oil into the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife set up the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline, at 877-823-6926, for people to call if they see wildlife impacted from the oil.


Mario Tama/Getty Images

A bird balances on a boom, a temporary floating barrier to contain oil which seeped into Talbert Marsh, home to around 90 bird species.


Mario Tama/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Michelle Steele of California’s 48th district sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Sunday, requesting a Major Disaster Declaration for Orange County.

“It is imperative that the Federal Government assist in recovery efforts,” she wrote in that letter. “Constituents who live along the shoreline are already reporting oil on the beach and strong odors. Officials are already responding to protect sea life. Dead fish and birds are already being reported on beaches and shorelines.”

Here, a ‘Keep Out’ sign is posted near oil washed up on Huntington State Beach after the spill.


Elliot Mendoza/NBCLA

The oil spill occurred in federal waters at the Elly platform, which was built in 1980 and processes crude oil from two other platforms that comes from a large reservoir called Beta Field. Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp. is the parent company of Beta Offshore, but Beta Offshore is based in Long Beach, California. Here, oil is seen in the Huntington Beach Channel.



Amplify President and CEO Martyn Willsher joined Coast Guard, state wildlife and county officials at a news conference at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Long Beach, where he said company divers were on location investigating the source and potential cause of the leak and promised the company would do “everything in our power” to clean up the spill.
Oil is seen here off the coast of Huntington Beach, the morning of Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.


Elliot Mendoza/NBCLA

Officials said Sunday afternoon that beaches could be shut down for several weeks, possibly months, while cleanup efforts continued.


Elliot Mendoza/NBCLA

The spill drew a response from all levels of government, and a unified command led by the United States Coast Guard was established to handle the environmental crisis. In this photo, cleanup workers at the Huntington Beach Channel work to clean up the spill.


Mario Tama/Getty Images

Oil is seen here washed up on Huntington State Beach. The spill forced the closure of the popular Great Pacific Airshow before its final day, with authorities urging people to avoid beaches in the vicinity.

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