Oil and swarms of dead wildlife washed up the coast of Southern California on Sunday
The leak was first reported to the US Coast Guard on Saturday morning, but local, state and federal officials said they were still trying to determine its cause and extent on Sunday. Residents of the affected area were asked to avoid walking, swimming or surfing near the affected beaches and wetlands.
“Unfortunately, the size and potential impact of this oil spill makes it necessary for people to stay out of the water and avoid contact with the oil,” Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said Sunday.
He said the cause of the leak and the quantity and type of oil is being investigated and trained spill response contractors are being sent to clean the oil.
Orange County Representative Michelle Steele sent a letter to President Biden on Sunday requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County.
“Coconuts living along the shoreline are already reporting oil and strong odors on the beach,” she wrote. “I have serious concerns about the environmental impacts of the spill and applaud the workers who are doing their best to prevent the oil from hitting the sensitive wetlands.”
According to Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, the spill was linked to an offshore oil platform known as Alley, which is operated by Beta Offshore. A representative for the company could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.
Huntington Beach officials canceled the third and final day of the Pacific Airshow. Mayor Kim Carr said on Saturday that the leak could cause a “potential ecological disaster”.
Booms and other equipment were deployed on Saturday to prevent oil from reaching sensitive wetlands and nature reserves. But by Sunday, Orange County Supervisor Ms Foley said dead fish and birds had been washed ashore and that oil had infiltrated the two wetlands “and caused significant damage.”
“All agencies, including the environment and wildlife, are working together to minimize the damage and reduce the impact on our beautiful coast,” Ms Foley said in a tweet.
The US Coast Guard previously said the spill covered a 13-square-mile area off the coast, and that it was investigating the spill with BET and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife of Spill Prevention and Response.
write to Chris Maher at [email protected]