BY MIKE STEVENS
HUNTINGTON BEACH – An oil slick covering about 13 square miles was spotted three miles off of Newport Beach Saturday afternoon along with an “oil sheen” in federal waters a few miles off of Huntington Beach. By Sunday morning, the processed crude was making contact with Orange County beaches and local wetlands as various environmental crews worked to contain the damage.
Dead fish and birds washed ashore in the overnight hours, and the affected ocean and beaches from Huntington Beach to the Santa Ana River were closed by the Huntington Beach Fire Department Marine Safety Division. The environmentally sensitive Talbert Marsh near the mouth of the Santa Ana River was affected and floating booms and skimming equipment were deployed to control the oil as much as possible. The booms are also being used to block the slick from entering the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. As of Saturtday night, approximately 126,000 gallons of post-production crude had spilled.
“The spill has significantly affected Huntington Beach, with substantial ecological impacts occurring at the beach and at the Huntington Beach Wetlands,” a city statement said.
The source of the spill is a broken pipeline connected to the offshore oil platform Elly, located about five miles offshore. Despite reports the issue was resolved at the rig, oil was still leaking as of Sunday morning.
Members of the public have been asked to avoid affected water and shoreline, and not to approach affected wildlife.