A report prepared in 2012 by the operator of the pipeline believed to be at the center of a massive crude oil spill off the coast of Southern California warned that a leak of that size would be a “worst-case” scenario that could cause “substantial damage.”
Pipeline operator Beta Offshore said in the report that a full cut in the oil rig three miles from shore could release roughly 3,000 barrels, or 126,000 gallons, of oil, NBC News reported.
The operator described the situation as a “worst-case” scenario that could cause “significant and substantial harm to the environment” due to the rig’s “proximity to navigable waters and adjoining shoreline areas designated as environmentally sensitive,” the outlet reported.
Divers were still investigating the offshore pipeline as the source of the leak Sunday after at least 126,000 gallons of oil reached the shores of Huntington Beach in what is believed to be one of the largest spills in recent Southern California history.
The spill forced the closures of city and state beaches, starting from Huntington Beach’s north edge to about 6 miles south to the Santa Ana River jetty.
Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said the beaches could be shuttered for weeks or even months.
“In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades,” Carr said. “We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors and our natural habitats.”
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said that some wildlife had got stuck in the muck and died.
“We’ve started to find dead birds & fish washing up on the shore,” Foley wrote on Twitter.
The suspected leak comes as the Coast Guard was probing nearly 350 reports of oil spills in the Gulf following Hurricane Ida.
Environmentalists warned that such spills have wide-ranging effects on the local wildlife, including on whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures who can have trouble breathing or die after swimming through oil or breathing in toxic fumes.
“The oil spill just shows how dirty and dangerous oil drilling is and oil that gets into the water. It’s impossible to clean it up so it ends up washing up on our beaches and people come into contact with it and wildlife comes in contact with it,” aid Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program.
“It has long-lasting effects on the breeding and reproduction of animals. It’s really sad to see this broad swatch oiled.”
With Post wires