Progress Continues in California Coastal Oil Spill Cleanup

A contracted cleanup team removes containment boom at Bolsa Chica Wetlands in Huntington Beach, California, Oct. 15, 2021. Courtesy photo by Danny Ibarra.

The Unified Command overseeing the cleanup effort in San Diego and Orange counties in the wake of a coastal oil spill that remains under investigation say that significant progress has been made.

Over 1,800 people from around the country have been involved in the spill response, including 116 local volunteers who were trained and assisted in shoreline cleanup events.

According to the Unified Command, no free-floating oil has been observed on the water surface since Oct. 5. Containment boom specifically designed to restrict the flow of free-floating oil has been of significant help in protecting sensitive areas and is now being removed.

The Unified Command is now working to transition to a long-term plan for tar ball recover, according to Capt. Rebecca Ore, the federal on-scene coordinator for the response.

Boat decontamination sites at Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are still operating, as well as a third boat decontamination site at Long Beach. Meanwhile, onshore seafood sampling is underway to evaluate fisheries in the spill area, and those areas are to reopen upon the recommendation of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said Lt. Christian Corbo, the state on-scene coordinator for the response.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center said that a juvenile northern right whale dolphin found stranded at Cabrillo Beach must be euthanized, but that of 32 birds captures after the will 24 have already been cleaned and eight birds have been rehabilitated and released.

Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Barelli, the captain of the port at San Diego, said that the Coast Guard will continue to assess San Diego County beaches through multiple tidal cycles to ensure the shoreline is safe for wildlife and the public.