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4 Oct, 2021 14:54

‘Worst California oil spill in decades’ KILLING wildlife, has shut down Huntington Beach & could take MONTHS to clean up

At least 126,000 gallons (3,000 barrels) of oil have spilled into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Orange County, California, decimating wildlife and upsetting beachgoers, with the clean-up expected to take weeks or even months.

The oil may have begun leaking on Friday, with authorities pointing to an offshore rig operated by Beta Offshore as the likely culprit. By Sunday, the slick had reached the coast and covered some six miles (9.6 km) of Huntington Beach shoreline.

People were advised to stay out of the water, and not to fish or exercise there, due to health risks, with the shutdown potentially lasting for weeks or months, according to Mayor Kim Carr. Other nearby communities are expected to be affected over the next several days.

“It’s horrible. I want to know who’s responsible for it, it’s all about accountability,” a beachgoer told RT’s video agency Ruptly. “You can smell it, you’re getting a headache from it, big blobs of oil all over the place.”

I’ve been coming here for 20, 30 years, this is the worst I’ve seen.

Over a dozen boats were dispatched to conduct containment and recovery of the heavy crude, and to enforce a safety zone outside of the affected area. There have been conflicting reports on whether the leaking underwater pipeline has been successfully patched.

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Containment booms – barriers designed to halt the spread of hydrocarbon products on the water’s surface – have been deployed, in part to prevent the spill from reaching the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands. Nevertheless, the slippage has already infiltrated the Talbert Marsh natural reserve and otherwise impacted wildlife, according to Katrina Foley, an Orange County supervisor.

“Wildlife is dying,” she told reporters on Saturday. “We do have reports of dead animals along the shore, washing up upon the shore at the Huntington Beach State beach area, as well as wildlife within the Marsh and wetlands is dying.”

The leak also forced the 2021 Pacific Airshow to shut down earlier than planned, skipping its third day on Sunday.

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“In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades,” Mayor Carr said.

One of the worst oil spills affecting Orange Country happened in 1990, when the oil tanker American Trader ran over its anchor off Huntington Beach. The ship spilled nearly 417,000 gallons (9,900 barrels) of crude. A more recent disaster in the San Francisco Bay involving the cargo ship Cosco Busan in 2007 spilled some 58,000 gallons (1,380 barrels) of bunker fuel into the waters.

The platform Elly, the apparent source of the ongoing spill, is located in federal waters off the Orange County coast and was installed in 1980. It’s one of 23 such rigs, two of which are being decommissioned, according to government records. It is used to process extracted crude before the product is transported via a pipeline to Long Beach.

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