Agencies | , Huntington Beach
California authorities and emergency responders were racing on Monday to contain the damage from a major offshore oil spill that the city of Huntington Beach described as an “environmental catastrophe”.
Popular beaches along a 24km stretch of coastline south of Los Angeles were closed from Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach, city officials reported as crews scrambled to clean up one of California’s biggest spills in decades.
Fishing operations in the area were ordered halted, and wildlife has been killed due to the 480,000-litre spill of post-production crude that began leaking early Saturday from what officials said is a pipeline connected to an oil rig offshore.
The US Coast Guard coordinating the response said early on Monday that oil amounting to less than 3% of the spill plume – estimated to be 5.8 nautical miles (10km) long – had been recovered, and that more than a mile of oil containment booms had been deployed.
“Unfortunately, we are starting to see oil covered fish and birds washing up along our coastline,” including in protected wetlands, the City of Huntington Beach said.
Federal and state investigators were focusing on a 41-year-old pipeline as the likely source of an oil spill that killed wildlife and fouled the coast of southern California.
Accuweather reported that a coming storm in the Los Angeles area could bring higher swells into the area beginning late in the day and continuing through Tuesday. This could hamper clean-up efforts.
Authorities scramble to clean-up California’s worst oil spill in years