California oil spill kills fish, damages wetlands
The U.S. Coast Guard, heading a clean-up response involving federal, state and city agencies, said on Sunday there was an around-the-clock investigation into how the spill occurred.
An estimated 126,000 gallons, or 3,000 barrels, had spread into an oil slick covering about 13 square miles of the Pacific Ocean since it was first reported on Oct. 2 morning, said Kim Carr, the mayor of Huntington Beach, at a press conference.
She called the spill an “environmental catastrophe” and a “potential ecological disaster.” The beachside city, about 40 miles (65 km) south of Los Angeles, was bearing the brunt of the spill.
Carr added: “Our wetlands are being degraded and portions of our coastline are now covered in oil.”
The spill was caused by a breach connected to the Elly oil rig and stretched from the Huntington Beach Pier down to Newport Beach, a stretch of coast popular with surfers and sunbathers.
Carr said the oil rig was operated by Beta Offshore, a California subsidiary of Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation. Calls to Beta and Amplify went unanswered.
Carr, in her remarks, added: “In the coming days and weeks we challenge the responsible parties to do everything possible to rectify this environmental catastrophe.”
On Oct. 3, Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley said the oil had infiltrated the Talbert Marsh, a large ecological reserve, causing “significant damage.”
Beaches were closed to swimming and a local air show was canceled, although some people were undeterred from setting up chairs on the beach to enjoy a sunny Sunday or strolling along the pier.
Carr said officials had deployed 2,050 feet (625 meters) of protective booms, which help contain and slow the oil flows.