Wednesday, October 20, 2021

WATCH: Officials give update on California oil spill

Some crude that spilled from a pipeline in Southern California waters is breaking up naturally in ocean currents, a Coast Guard official said Wednesday, as officials sought to determine the extent of the damage.

Watch the briefing in the player above.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmeyer said some oil has been pushed south by currents. The storm earlier in the week may also have helped disperse the oil, which he said could make it more challenging to disperse.

The pipeline operator, Amplify Energy Corp., has publicly estimated a maximum volume of 126,000 gallons (572,807 litres) of heavy crude. But the company told federal investigators with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that initial measurements put the total at only 29,400 gallons (111,291 liters).

Beachgoers played volleyball on the sands of Huntington Beach on Wednesday morning as walkers and bikers passed by the city’s famous pier. Some oil balls were visible along the shoreline but there was no smell. Signs declared that the beach was open but the water was closed.

The animal rescue team is pleasantly surprised to see some birds covered in oil.

Workers continued to spend Wednesday mornings to collect oil from the environmentally sensitive Talbert Marsh Ecological Reserve.

“We are really lucky,” said John Villa, the executive director of conservation, during a tour of the wetland with local elected officials. “Because working with the various agencies we’ve worked with, we were able to get things under control quickly,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t stop it completely. So all three of our marshes have oil. So 127 acres of land is affected.”

State Sen. Dave Min, (d) was among those to express concern during the visit to California. “No matter what we look forward to, this is clearly an environmental disaster,” he said. “We deal with this type of disaster every 5-10 years and that seems like enough.”

Investigators have said the leak may have been caused by a ship’s anchor that bent, dragged and tore an underwater pipeline. Federal officials also found that the pipeline owner did not cease operations quickly after being alerted by a safety system to a potential leak.

Questions remained about the timeline of the weekend spill, which eroded beaches and a protected marshland, potentially closing them for weeks along with commercial and recreational fishing in a major hit to the local economy. .

Some reports of a possible leak, the smell of petroleum, and a smattering of oil on Huntington Beach waters came on Friday night, but these were not confirmed and the pipeline’s operator, Amplify Energy Corp., did not report the spill until the next morning. officials said.

An alarm sounded in the company’s control room at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday that the pipeline had lost pressure, indicating a possible leak, but Amplif waited until 6:01 a.m. to shut down the pipeline. , as in accordance with the preliminary findings of an investigation. spread

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Investigators said the Houston-based company took three hours to notify the US Coast Guard’s National Response Center to the oil spill, further slowing the response to a crash for which Amplify workers spent years preparing.

However, Amplify CEO Martin Wilser insisted that the company was not aware of the spill until it saw a glow on the water at 8:09 a.m.

The company’s spill-response plan calls for immediate notification of spills. Criminal charges have been brought in the past when a company took too long to notify federal and state officials about the spill.

On Tuesday, federal transportation investigators said the pipe had split open at a depth of about 98 feet (30 meters) and a nearly one-mile-long section had been dragged along the ocean floor, possibly by an anchor that tilted it and Caused a partial tear. Federal transportation investigators said.

Huge cargo ships regularly pass over the pipeline as they make their way to the sprawling Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex. They are given the coordinates where they anchor until unloaded.

As Steven Brown, a professor of maritime transportation at the State of California, said, anchored cargo ships are prone to constant winds and tides, and an improperly set anchor weighing 10 tons (9 metric tons) or more “whatever.” anchor goes bad”. University Maritime Academy.

There was no indication whether investigators suspected a particular ship was involved.

During the two-hour boat trip from Huntington Beach beach, an AP video journalist saw no visible oil. Pelicans and other seabirds swam on the calm waters, and four dolphins swam from the boat.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials defended their decision to wait until Saturday morning to investigate a possible spill first reported on Friday night – about 10 hours earlier – from a raft of boats docked off Huntington Beach. near the group.

At 2:06 a.m. Saturday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said satellite images showed strong potential for oil spills. The report was given to the National Response Center, a dangerous spill hotline operated by the Coast Guard.

Residents of nearby Newport Beach also complained about the strong smell of petroleum on Friday evening, and police served notices to the public about it.

The Coast Guard was alerted to a glow on the water by a “Good Samaritan”, but did not have sufficient corroborating evidence and was hampered by darkness and a lack of technology to seek spills, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Bryan Penauer told the Associated Press.

Pennoyer said it is quite common to receive reports of oil spills in a major port.

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