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Gavin Newsom Declares State of Emergency After Massive Oil Spill Off Southern CA Coast

Gavin Newsom Declares State of Emergency After Massive Oil Spill Off Southern CA Coast

A leak in an oil pipeline caused a major spill off the coast of southern California on Saturday, sending oil spewing into the local environment and potentially harming wildlife and nearby human residents. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency due to the spill. “The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” he said in a statement.

The breach occurred about 5 miles off the coast of Huntington Beach in Orange County, local officials said. The oil spill is the equivalent of an estimated 3,000 barrels — or 126,000 gallons — of post-production crude, though the city of Huntington Beach said the spill could be as much as 144,000 gallons. The size of the spill was reported to be about 13 square miles, the Coast Guard said Sunday.

The volume of the spill pales in comparison to other notorious incidents such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, although the full extent of the spill won’t be known for several weeks, one local official said. By midday Monday, about 4,100 gallons of oil had been removed from the water and 8,700 feet of what’s known as “oil boom” were deployed. The floating barriers are specifically designed to contain an oil spill.

The oil spill has coated nearby areas with oil, shut down beaches, threatened wildlife habitats, and potentially harmed people. Local governments took steps to keep people away from oiled areas.

A dead fish is seen after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday, to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Sections of the shoreline at Huntington Beach were closed this weekend, Orange County health officials advised residents to avoid recreational activities on the coastline, the city of Laguna Beach closed its beaches Sunday night and Newport Beach advised people to avoid contact with ocean water and beach areas impacted by oil.

The cause of the leak is not yet known, though investigators are examining whether a ship’s anchor could have caused the oil spill. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement was assisting “in identifying the location and source of any spills and provide technical assistance to the Unified Command in stopping the spillage,” the agency said Sunday in a statement.

Amplify Energy, which owns the pipeline, is a small, independent company with 222 employees as of the end of 2018, the last time it reported its staff size in a company filing. Its most recent financial report shows sales of $153 million, with year-to-date losses of $54.4 million through the end of June. The company was working with local, state, and federal agencies on recovery efforts, said an Amplify executive in a statement to CNN.

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