Oil Spill Threatens Our Beaches


Huntington Beach, one of the communities affected by the oil spill.

Beatrice Santa Ana, Staff Writer

There was an oil spill off the coast of Southern California that was reported earlier this October, and the source of the spill was a crack in a 17-mile pipeline that runs offshore near the most noteworthy beaches in the Southern California area. The one most affected being Huntington Beach in the Orange County area. Authorities in the area say that the oil was 5 miles off the coast of Huntington Beach when it was first reported on October 2.

The amount of crude oil that spilled into the ocean was at first estimated to be at a maximum amount of 127,000 gallons, or 3,111 barrels, but after some inspection, a few days later by the US Coast Guard, that number was estimated to be lower (around a minimum amount of 25,000 gallons, or 588 barrels). Further inspection revealed that the cause of the crack in the pipeline could possibly be because of the anchors of ships (those coming into port beaches) dragging across and hitting the pipeline over the course of months prior to the first report. And although Long Beach wasn’t as affected as the other areas, a cargo ship from the port of Long Beach might have been the culprit for the initial anchor that was dragged along the pipe. 

The pipeline is owned by the company Amplify Energy. Amplify Energy is based in Houston, Texas, and the facility that operates the pipeline is the Beta Operating Company LLC. This operating company has had a history of violations and warnings by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and has had more than 100 violations in the past 11 years. So this leakage should have been anticipated, and as of mid-October the leak is no longer active and has been suctioned at the affected spot to stop more spillage. 

Unlike this oil spill, the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill let out 4.2 million gallons of crude oil over the course of an entire year, and although that was centuries ago we still see the ecological effects of that event. In this latest oil spill, they are already finding oiled wildlife washed up on the beach, and though they are starting to clean up there is no way of knowing the true extent of how much damage this oil spill will do in the coming weeks or months. In the following week of the spill efforts were made to keep the oil from spreading any further, and 5,544 gallons of oil, 13.6 barrels of stray blobs of oil, and 250,000 pounds of oiled debris has been recovered.

Although officials are working hard and trying their best with the clean ups, we still might be seeing the effects years later, like in the last big oil spill of Santa Barbara. So here are some comments from Ms. Sanchez, a science teacher here in Rancho Dominguez, about the oil spill. 

When asked how the oil spill will damage the environment in the long term, Sanchez said, “I don’t think the crude oil will be fully filtered out, and the organisms living there will continue to consume it either directly or indirectly, and so I think that just stays, and it’ll stay for a long time.” She also said, “And I think the only way to stop this from happening or reversing the damage, is to stop oil from being collected in the ocean.” 

When asked if she thought the officials are handling the clean up properly Sanchez said, “They’re trying their best, it’s a hard process and I don’t think you can do it a hundred percent, so I don’t think it’ll ever be a hundred percent clear but it will be diluted enough where it’s not as big of an issue.” 

As of October 11, beaches that were contaminated by the oil spill were deemed safe to open back up due to the clean up efforts of the US Coast Guard.