Coast Guard investigates SECOND possible oil spill off southern California beach
The US Coast Guard is investigating the possibility of a second oil spill off the southern California beach, where a pipeline was recently punctured, spitting crude into the water.
Coast Guard planes and boats were dispatched on Saturday afternoon after an oil burst of about 2,100 square feet was reported off Huntington Beach, where the initial rupture occurred.
In an update, officials said they were unable to observe the reported oil burst and were investigating whether the sighting was related to the ruptured pipeline, repair efforts or a source distinct.
Federal officials on Friday identified the Chinese state-operated cargo ship COSCO Beijing as suspected to be the source of the massive October 2 oil spill.
An aerial photo shows floating barriers known as dams set up in an attempt to stop further incursions into the Talbert Marsh wetlands after the original oil spill in Huntington Beach last month
The cargo ship Cosco Beijing is under investigation for its potential involvement in an oil spill in early October off the southern California coast
The original leak came from a 17.5 mile pipeline running from Amplify’s Elly oil rig seven miles off the Long Beach coast to a pumping station operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit. from Houston-based Amplify, and has spread to a large number of beaches and coastal areas in Orange County, California.
Beijing is suspected of dragging its anchor on the seabed and cracking the crucial pipeline, according to the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The pipeline has remained closed since the initial incident, the Coast Guard said on Friday.
As a result of the new reported spill, the old synthetic glass packaging was removed from the damaged pipeline and new packaging was installed.
Crews will monitor the line overnight to ensure the seal is working.
Although the pipe was hit by the anchor in January, it did not start to leak oil until October, according to an investigation.
The discovery means investigators will now be able to take a closer look at the suspect Beijing vessel as the investigation into the spill progresses.
The pipe (circled in red) was dragged 105 feet and tilted after a suspected anchor dragged it across the ocean floor
The US Coast Guard reported that the ruptured pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, but the pipeline is believed to have been damaged in January.
Workers in protective gear clean up contaminated beach after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., October 5
Federal investigators were able to determine that the vessel was involved in the anchor dragging incident, which occurred “Near” an underwater pipeline.
The pipeline was later found to be the source of the leak, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, shutting down beaches and marinas in Orange County.
The rupture involved a pipeline owned by Amplify Energy in federal waters from the Elly oil rig, about 4.5 miles offshore.
The pipeline stretches 18 miles from Amplify’s offshore drilling rigs to a pump station in Long Beach.
Amplify’s pipeline has been confirmed to have been damaged and moved over 100 feet along the ocean floor, suggesting the ship’s anchor may have caused the damage.
A warning sign is displayed as workers in protective gear clean up the contaminated beach after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., October 5
It was initially believed that around 144,000 gallons of oil could have leaked from the pipeline, but officials determined the amount to be much less – than around 25,000, although there is no precise figure.
The shores of Huntington Beach, known as “Surf City USA”, and nearby Newport Beach were closed for a short time.
Coastal stores were eventually hit and conservationists voiced concerns about the spill’s long-term impact on sensitive wetlands and wildlife.
More than four dozen animals, mostly birds and fish, were found dead within a week of the spill, though not all of them were visibly oiled.
It is not known why the leak occurred eight months later rather than at the time of the collision with the anchor.
Authorities are also investigating whether other anchors struck and weakened the pipeline or whether a pre-existing condition of the line was to blame.