California’s Massive Offshore Oil Spill

Californias Massive Offshore Oil Spill

Emma Bradley, Senior Journalist

On October 5, 2021, Huntington Beach was hit with a huge oil spill. It was found 5 miles off the coast of central California. This was the largest offshore spill at Huntington Beach in decades. The cause of the spill was theorized to be a damaged pipeline caused by an anchor dropped from a ship. Divers quickly confirmed it was a ruptured 17-mile long pipeline connecting the Elly offshore oil platform to shore that caused the 3,100 barrels of oil to spill. This resulted in fisheries and beaches being shut down so cleanup efforts could function effectively. 

Oil spills have caused damage to our economy and coastal ecosystems. Members of the Senate and Public Works Committee are fed up with this happening time and time again, so they’ve encouraged an end to federal oil leasing in the Pacific Ocean. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that President Biden is “very engaged” in monitoring the spill, and the White House is collaborating with state and local partners to locate the leak, contain the oil and review the damages. 

Experts are currently weighing in on the impact of the spill. Although dead fish and birds washed up on shore, the spill was not as detrimental to wildlife as others have been in the past.  “It’s much better than we had feared,” Michael Ziccardi, a veterinarian and director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, said in a press conference regarding the issue. The main worry concerns the fragile coastal wetlands. David Valentine, an expert in oil spills at the University of California Santa Barbara, said the real concern now is in the potential damage to California wetlands which are already fragile due to urbanization.  

Officials in Southern California say the full extent of the damage from the oil spill will not be known for weeks. Kim Carr, the Mayor of Huntington Beach, stated it was too early to tell  how long the beaches will be shut down, but she would like people to have access to the beach as soon as it’s possible.