(Trends Wide Español) — An oil spill was reported off the coast of Southern California shortly after 9 a.m. this Saturday. This is what we know.
- About 3,000 barrels of oil – or 126,000 gallons of post-production crude – were spilled into the Pacific Ocean.
- The leak occurred about 5 miles off the coast of Huntington Beach, and oil began to reach the shores of the city of 200,000 people.
- “Currently, the extent of the oil slick is estimated at 5.8 nautical miles, and runs from the Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach,” according to a Huntington Beach news release.
- The pipeline is owned by Houston-based oil and gas company Amplify Energy, its president and CEO Martyn Willsher said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
- Willsher said the facilities operating the pipeline were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s and are inspected every two years, even during the pandemic.
- Divers have been inspecting the 17-mile pipeline, hoping to find the exact source of the spill, but the leak appears to have stopped.
- Orange County health officials issued an advisory asking residents to avoid recreational activities on the shoreline and have recommended that people who may have come in contact with the oil seek medical attention. Some beaches were closed to the public.
What can happen
What generates the greatest concern after the spill is the ecological impact it may have on the region, where birds and fish have already begun to appear dead on the coast. Here are some of the highlights about the impact it could have:
- Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr on Sunday described the spill as a “possible ecological disaster.” “In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging problems, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations our community has faced in decades,” Carr said.
- When the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, experts told Trends Wide that the ecological and biological consequences could last for years, if not decades. The specialists indicated that the duration and impact depend on how big the spill is.
- When the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil, the surface portion of the spill had largely disappeared within three years, according to studies conducted by the Bureau. Response and Restoration of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, a 2003 study published in the journal Science disputed NOAA’s toxicity finding and said that oil in the sediment was still harming the species more than a decade after the accident.
- “Oil has seeped into all of (Talbert’s) wetlands. There are significant impacts to wildlife there,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said.
- Another concern about the spill is how it could affect the health of the people who live in the region.
- In a health advisory, Orange County Health Care Agency county health official Dr. Clayton Chau said the impacts of oil exposure could vary and anyone experiencing adverse symptoms should contact with your doctor.
- Symptoms of excessive exposure to oil or dispersants may include skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, vomiting, or difficulty breathing.