Huntington Beach locals first noticed a sheen of oil on the water and a heavy “gas station” smell around the area on October 1, 2021. It was strong enough that the local message board was full of people checking how far up and down the beach it could be smelled. On Saturday, boaters noticed oil coating their hulls. Reports were sent in, but it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that a Coast Guard response began. And the company running the pipeline that is believed responsible for the leak delayed shutting down its operation until late that night. Finally on October 3, booms were deployed to keep oil from spreading further.
By then, the oil sheen was miles wide, and wave-tossed oil was washing ashore in sticky black gobs, fouling wildlife.
“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,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. “We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors, and our natural habitats.”
The pipe that is the likely culprit belongs to Amplify Energy Corp and leads to an oil production platform and a drilling platform, both of which stand in federal waters about 17 miles off the California coast.
According to Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher, both platforms, the pipeline, and a third Amplify platform nearby were all shut down Saturday night, and the pipe suctioned so there is no further oil in it to spill while divers search for the source of the leak.
So far, an estimated 126,000 gallons of heavy crude oil have been leaked into the water. All of Huntington and nearby Laguna Beach have been closed to water use, in the middle of autumn temps running from 70-90 degrees.