Unified Command Continues Response to Oil Spill Off the Coast of Orange County, California

Oil spill off Newport Beach, Calif.
An aerial view of the massive oil spill off Newport Beach, Calif. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Brahm, U.S. Coast Guard District 11 PADET Los Angeles.

A Unified Command established to respond to a massive oil spill off the coast of California is continuing its work, with commercial divers contracted to identify the source of an oil pipeline leak that has caused at least 126,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Orange County.

The spill disaster has prompted closure of area fisheries, closed major surfing teaches and left numerous fish and birds coated in oil.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Orange County.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed fishing for finfish and shellfish from Huntington Beach to two miles north of San Clemente Municipal Pier, including shorelines and offshore areas, bays and harbors and to eight miles offshore.

Updates to fisheries closures are being posted online at https://socalspillresponse.com/fisheries-closure/

Diver reports released by the U.S. Coast Guard and California Fish and Wildlife on Tuesday, Oct. 6, show that a 4,000-foot section of the 17.7-mile-long pipeline was displaced with a maximum lateral movement of some 105 feet and had a 13-inch spit, running parallel to the pipe. Overflights and shore-based responders are continuing to monitor at the ocean and shore for oil impact.

Various news reports identified the pipeline involved as being connected to an offshore platform called Elly, operated by Beta Offshore.

The National Response Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day by the Coast Guard, had received a report of an unknown petroleum sheen on Friday, Oct. 1, and NOAA satellite imagery reported a possible oil anomaly.

CDFW’S Office of Spill Prevention responded quickly, but conditions were foggy and the crew returned to shore, according to the Unified Command.

By the early morning of Monday, Oct. 5, 4,788 gallons of crude oil had been recovered and an estimated 15.67 miles of light oiling was reported along the shore of Orange County. Six miles of shoreline had been cleaned and crews were continuing the clean-up effort.

The Unified Command said 11,360 feet of containment boom had been deployed and eight oiled wildlife had been recovered, while dead birds and fish were washing ashore in some areas of the oil slick, which stretched from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach.