Reports of an oil sheen in the water off Huntington Beach on Saturday prompted authorities to investigate whether another oil spill was threatening the Orange County coast, but at dusk they were unable to locate the oil and suspected a small amount had disappeared.
State and federal agencies responded to the spot where the shine was discovered in the early afternoon near the burst pipeline that caused a major oil spill on Oct.2, officials said.
“It’s a light shine, not a smooth,” said Richard Braham, US Coast Guard petty officer. “The Coast Guard and [California Department of Fish and Wildlife] launched a team. They are currently investigating. “
He said the gloss covers an area 70 feet by 30 feet, comparing it to the colorful eddies that appear in water when diesel gas is spilled on a boat dock. Divers who work for Amplified Energy, the company that operates the oil rigs and pipeline that caused the oil spill, reported on the shine.
Braham said state and federal emergency services using boats and a helicopter could not find the shine and its cause has not been established.
“It’s not really unexpected; When you know these things, they go away pretty quickly, ”he said.
Coast Guard officials reported in a tweet on Saturday afternoon: “Previous syntho-glass wrapper has been removed from the pipeline, new wrapper has been installed. The crews will monitor the line overnight to ensure effectiveness. The pipeline has remained closed since the first incident on October 2nd. “
Amplify Energy did not comment on the reports, said a spokesman.
State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) said he is in contact with Department of Fish and Wildlife officials who are continuing the search.
“Maybe it’s just remnants from one of the pipe repairs,” he said in an interview.
“But whether or not this is another oil spill,” he added, a future one is an “inevitability until we get rid of those oil rigs off our coast”.
Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley described the situation as “frustrating” on Saturday.
She said she received a report from Huntington Beach officials about tourists returning to the city.
“We just can’t have these kinds of incidents or horrors off our coast anymore,” she said. “The coast here is really a tourist destination. … We have a solution that would prevent that: We have to switch from offshore drilling. “
The October 2nd oil spill released an estimated 25,000 gallons of oil into the San Pedro Channel. Authorities believe the leak was caused by a ship’s anchor ripping through a pipeline leading from an oil processing platform off Huntington Beach to Long Beach Harbor.
The October incident shut down beaches from Huntington to San Clemente; Initial reports that 130,000 gallons were spilled sparked fears of an environmental disaster that would kill wildlife and pollute beaches for years. However, the oil was trapped mainly offshore and did not cause significant destruction of the tidal habitat.
However, the burst pipe again prompted the drilling to be stopped before a more devastating accident occurs.
Min pointed out that the outdated infrastructure is no longer being operated by corporations like Shell Oil Co. – which built the facility outside Huntington’s – but rather by smaller, “thinly capitalized” energy companies like Amplified that can’t afford the proper maintenance can.
Shipping officials say the platforms off Orange County have always been dangerous because of the heavy shipping from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
During the pandemic, a supply chain bottleneck has anchored dozens of cargo ships in offshore oil drilling areas. Federal agencies believe that one of their anchors dragged the Amplify pipeline with it, which led to the rupture. On Thursday, agents boarded the Beijing container ship in Long Beach and identified it as the second ship to be investigated for the leak.
A Coast Guard investigator found the Beijing was involved in an anchor incident in heavy weather in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Jan. 25, officials said in a statement, and the Coast Guard has determined shipowner Capetanissa Maritime Corp. . of Liberia, and operator, V.Ships Greece Ltd., as parties of interest.
Another cargo ship, MSC Danit, had previously been investigated for towing anchor.
Coast Guard Captain Jason Neubauer, who is leading the investigation, told the Times that “both ships may be involved” in pulling the pipeline with its anchors off Huntington Beach earlier this year.
The Times staff, Cindy Carcamo and Connor Sheets, contributed to this report.
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