The city of Huntington Beach, along with California State Parks, reopened both state and local beaches this morning at 6:00 a.m. The beaches have been closed since an oil pipeline began leaking crude oil into the Pacific Ocean just over a week ago.
The joint decision to reopen beaches was made after “coastal ocean and wetlands water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water,” the city of Huntington Beach and California State Parks explained in a joint statement.
“The health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance,” Kim Carr, Mayor of Huntington Beach, said in the statement. “We understand the significance our beaches have on tourism, our economy, and our overall livelihood. It’s important that our decision to reopen our shoreline and water be based on data and that we continue to monitor the water quality going forward.”
A Significant Oil Spill
The oil spill off Huntington Beach was confirmed on October 2, after residents reported a petroleum smell and an oil slick in the water.
While the cause of the spill remains under investigation, Coast Guard officials said a pipeline owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy had likely been damaged by a ship’s anchor, an Associated Press article reports. That pipeline, which is used to move crude oil from offshore drilling platforms to the coast, is believed to have leaked somewhere between 25,000 gallons and 132,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean.
“This event could be multiple incidents and strikes of the pipeline after that initial event that we’re pretty confident occurred several months to a year ago,” Coast Guard Captain and chief of the office of investigation and analysis, Jason Neubauer, said during a press conference according to The Hill.
The Coast Guard is coordinating all clean-up efforts. However, those efforts aren’t limited to offshore work. Indeed, volunteers in hazmat suits are working along the shoreline as well.
In fact, more than 1,400 workers have been cleaning Orange County’s coastline. So far, they have 14 barrels of “tar balls” and another 250,000 pounds of oily sand and debris, Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley explains in an LA Times article.
Meanwhile, 5,544 total gallons of crude oil have been recovered by vessel, according to Unified Command handling the cleanup effort, NBC Los Angeles reports.