After an oil rig pipeline broke off the coast of California, a major oil leak began washing ashore at Huntington Beach over the weekend, leaving dead fish and birds strewn in the sand, according to local and federal officials.
According to Katrina Foley, the Orange County supervisor, about 570,000 litres (126,000 gallons) of oil had spread across a 30 square kilometre (13 square miles) slick into the Pacific Ocean since it was first reported on Saturday.
“The environmental harm is irreversible,” she stated in a statement. A breach associated with the spill to the Elly oil rig and spanned from Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach, a popular surfing and sunbathing spot south of Los Angeles.
Foley said on Sunday that the oil had got into the Talbert Marsh, an important biological reserve, and caused “serious harm.”
The air was thick with a petroleum odour that pervaded the entire area. She explained, “You get the flavour in your mouth solely from the vapours in the air.”
Beaches were closed. They cancelled swimming and a local air show, but that didn’t stop some people from setting up chairs on the beach or strolling down the pier on a lovely Sunday.
Officials in Huntington Beach said they used booms to keep oil out of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and the Huntington Beach Wetlands.
The United States Coast Guard, in collaboration with local and state agencies, flew planes over the spill to examine it and had engaged contractors to clean it up.
‘Oil output off the coast of California has dropped dramatically during the 1990s, owing in part to the state’s rigorous environmental regulations. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has stated that he aims to ban oil drilling in California by 2045.
After a major oil accident off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, which spilled 80,000 barrels into the sea, the state banned offshore drilling. In 2015, a leak off the coast of Santa Barbara spilled up to 2,400 barrels onto the beach and into the Pacific.
Offshore oil and gas drilling should also be banned, according to Oceana, an ocean conservation organisation.
Officials said they were looking into the source of the spill as well as the type of oil that was used.