Oil sheen off Huntington Beach does not impact beach, cause still unknown
An oil sheen spotted off the coast of Huntington Beach does not appear to have been caused by a pipeline leak, officials said Friday.
The “unified command” of authorities that responded to the oil spill in October that consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Orange County issued a news release saying, “there is no indication of an unsecured discharge of oil.”
The authorities could not find any evidence of oiling of the beaches. The authorities expect to release their response team as of Saturday.
The samples collected on Wednesday “are inconsistent with natural seep oil and with the oil associated with the discharge on Oct. 2, 2021, Pipeline P00547 incident,” according to the unified command.
Officials will continue investigating to determine what caused the oil sheen spotted about two nautical miles off the coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard received a report about the oil sheen at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Aidan Cooney.
“It was getting too dark to send out our assets, so we contacted other agencies nearby to see if they could assist,” Cooney said.
Officials from Cal Fire and the state Fish and Wildlife Service sent out aircraft and boats to investigate the report, Cooney said.
“They found some sheen, pulled a sample and we’re waiting for test results to identify the source,” he said.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said she was informed that there was a “pinhole leak” in a pipeline, but officials said they did not know which one. It is expected to be a minor leak, and at this point the experts believe it is gas that is in the water, she added.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said he was called about the incident Wednesday night. He directed the county’s public works department to help build a berm at Talbert Marsh on Wednesday night at the city’s request.
Huntington Beach firefighters smelled “a strong petroleum scent” that indicated some kind of oil sheen near the coastline.
Oil response officials were deployed Wednesday night but did not find any evidence of oiling and decided to conduct an aerial view Thursday morning at first light, Kim said.
The sighting came on the same day that the company that owns the underwater pipeline that ruptured in October, leaking thousands of gallons of oil, was indicted along with two of its subsidiaries on a federal charge of illegally discharging oil.
Prosecutors said Amplify Energy Corp. and two of its subsidiaries — Beta Operating Co. and San Pedro Bay Pipeline Co. — failed to adequately respond to eight leak alarms during a 13-hour period, then improperly restarted the 17-mile-long pipeline after it had been shut down in response to the alarms.
Amplify Energy issued a statement Wednesday evening insisting its personnel responded quickly to signs of a possible leak, but they believed the “leak detection system alarms” were false.
All told, about 25,000 gallons of oil seeped into the ocean beginning Oct. 1 from the ruptured 16-inch pipeline, which is submerged about 4.7 miles west of Huntington Beach.
“In light of the indictment, which revealed eight alarms and a failure to properly respond by the company, I think government oversight agencies have to respond to any concerns,” Foley said.