California oil spill: Authorities say ship’s anchor may have ruptured pipeline

Officials say 4,000ft section of pipeline moved around 105ft and had 13-inch split in it

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 05 October 2021 23:40
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Officials probe cause of massive oil spill in California

Damage to a section of pipeline that spilled up to 144,000 gallons of oil off the Southern California coast could have been caused by a ship’s anchor, authorities say.

Officials have revealed that a 4,000-ft section of the pipeline was moved around 105ft and had a 13-inch split in it off the coast of Huntington Beach.

The spill has shut down Orange County’s famous beaches as the oil has washed onto shore, causing a major environmental hazard.

A ship’s anchor striking the pipeline on the ocean floor is “one of the distinct possibilities” behind the disaster, Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said.

“This is a terrible tragedy and we are extremely sorry this happened,” he added.

“The cause of this will still need to be investigated, but regardless of the cause, we are going to do everything we can to make things right for all of those impacted areas and individuals as quickly as we can.”

There were multiple large container ships, which dock in nearby Long Beach, in the area at the time of the spill, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We’re looking into if it could have been an anchor from a ship, but that’s in the assessment phase right now,” said Coast Guard Lt Cmdr Jeannie Shaye.

This aerial picture taken on October 4, 2021 shows environmental response crews cleaning up oil that flowed near the Talbert marsh and Santa Ana River mouth, creating a sheen on the water after an oil spill in the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach, California.

Investigators are still trying to clarify the exact timeline of the spill, and who knew exactly when it may have started.

The alarm was first raised on Friday at 6.13pm when a ship reported seeing a sheen of oil in the water, according to a federal report on the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spill report website.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration then reportedly notified the federal response center twice on Friday night night of a possible oil spill.

But the Coast Guard did not investigate the reports for more than 12 hours because of darkness and a lack of technology, officials told the Associated Press.

Oil floats on the water surface after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday, to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands.

Amplify Energy says it did not detect the spill until Saturday morning, rather than Friday night.

Governor Gavin Newsom, who has declared a state of emergency, hopes to phase out drilling in the state by 2045.

“California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis,” said Mr Newsom.

“This incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”

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