US Did an anchor strike the pipeline? Cause of California oil spill catastrophe could be determined today
What Was the Worst Oil Spill in U.S. History? California's Huntington Beach Hit by 'Major' Leak
About 126,000 gallons of oil have so far leaked in the waters near Huntington Beach, California. Here's how that compares to America's worst oil disasters.In a press conference hours after the spill was first reported on Saturday morning, Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr called the spill an "environmental catastrophe" and "potential ecological disaster.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Authorities could determine as soon as Tuesday the cause of the pipeline breach thatoff the Southern California coast, fouling waters and beaches for miles.
Investigators are looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck a pipeline on the ocean floor. An anchor is “one of the distinct possibilities” behind the leak, Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher told a news conference. Willsher said he expected that authorities would have a better idea of what caused the damage Tuesday.
Backlogs have plagued the ports in recent months, and dozens of ships have regularly been anchored while waiting their turn to unload.
Massive California oil spill was reported Friday. But nobody told the millions who went to the beaches
Experts said humans as well as wildlife are at risk from crude oil spills, and emergency officials should have immediately acted rather than letting millions crowd beaches near the spill on a sunny Saturday,Federal and state authorities were aware of the spill by Friday evening, official spill reports show. And National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites spotted an oily "anomaly" mushrooming in inky Pacific waters through the night.
“We’re looking into if it could have been an anchor from a ship, but that’s in the assessment phase right now,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeannie Shaye said.
The pipeline was supposed to be monitored by an automated leak detection system and control room staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Along with the cause of the leak, the criminal and civil investigations will try to determine.
The first emergency call came in Friday at 6:13 p.m., and it wasn't from Amplify. A ship had noticed a sheen in the water, according to a federal report on the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services spill report website. Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration then notified the federal response center twice that night of a possible oil spill less than five miles off Huntington Beach, according to updates on the California emergency services website.
California oil spill: Coastal residents brace for damage as officials rush to contain it
The oil spill off the coast of Orange County is a slow-moving disaster that is still hard for many residents to detect with the naked eye. © Kyle Grillot for CNN Patriot Environmental employees work to clear oil from the surface of the water inside Talbert Marsh. As officials expanded their efforts to contain it, local residents and vacationers were bracing for impact -- scanning a coastline that was still sparkling at many public access points on Monday as they looked for signs of the pipeline leak first officially reported on Saturday and still under investigation.
How it happened:
So there apparently was oil in the water Friday. Yet Amplify Energy said in a statement that it's subsidiary Beta Offshore first observed and notified the Coast Guard of an oil sheen Saturday morning.
The leak detection system, part of Amplify's spill reaction plan, was designed to trigger an alarm whenever a change in the flow of oil is detected, the Associated Press reported. But how fast it can pick up on those changes can vary according to the size of the leak. For a large leak – 10% or more of the amount of oil flowing through the pipeline – the detection time was estimated at 5 minutes. Smaller leaks were expected to take up to 50 minutes to detect, according to the response plan.
Amplify's spill plan warned that a break in the pipeline could cause “substantial harm to the environment” and that in a worst-case scenario 131,000 gallons of oil could be released from the pipeline. This leak surpassed that amount.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who hopes to phase out drilling by 2045, declared a state of emergency.
“California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis," Newsom said. "This incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
California's Huntington Beach to Reopen 8 Days After Oil Spill Reported Off Shore .
The beach has been cleaned by workers to remove contaminated materials, and officials said water quality tests found no detectable levels of toxins.City and state beaches in Huntington Beach will be reopened after water quality tests found no detectable levels of oil associated toxins in the ocean water, but officials are urging visitors to avoid areas that smell of oil and to avoid touching materials covered in oil that wash ashore.