An oil spill off the California coast destroyed a wildlife habitat and caused dead birds and fish to wash up on Huntington Beach, officials say

An oil spill off the California coast destroyed a wildlife habitat and caused dead birds and fish to wash up on Huntington Beach, officials say

A swath of the Southern California coast is covered with oil after 3,000 barrels’ worth gushed into the Pacific Ocean — devastating some of the local wildlife, officials said.

A pipeline breach occurred about 5 miles off the coast of Huntington Beach, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said Sunday.

“We’ve started to find dead birds and fish washing up on the shore,” Foley said.

“The oil has infiltrated the entirety of the (Talbert) Wetlands. There’s significant impacts to wildlife there,” she said.

“These are wetlands that we’ve been working with the Army Corps of Engineers, with the Land Trust, with all the community wildlife partners to make sure to create this beautiful, natural habitat for decades. And now in just a day, it’s completely destroyed.”

An oil sheen was first reported to the US Cost Guard shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday morning, the Coast Guard said in a press release.

“It’s probably been leaking longer than we know,” Foley told CNN Sunday.

The spill — equal to about 126,000 gallons of post-production crude — is a “potential ecological disaster,” Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Saturday.

As of Sunday morning, “the leak has not been completely stopped,” the city of Huntington Beach said in a press release. It said preliminary patching has been completed to repair the oil spill site, and additional repair efforts will be attempted.

“Currently, the oil slick plume measures an estimated 5.8 nautical miles long, and runs from the Huntington Beach Pier down into Newport Beach,” the press release said.

Carr said information from the Coast Guard indicates the spill may have stemmed from an offshore oil production operation near Huntington Beach.

The exact cause of the spill has not been determined, and the owner of the pipeline is unknown, city officials said. They said the Coast Guard is investigating.

The Coast Guard has classified the situation as a major oil spill, Huntington Beach Marine Safety Chief Eric McCoy said.

Huntington Beach officials canceled the final day of the Pacific Airshow and are encouraging people to stay away from the Santa Ana River Trail, Talbert Park and Talbert Marsh areas and the beaches in the impacted areas to prevent contact with potentially toxic oiled areas.

Foley urged residents to avoid the area.

“Please don’t go down and try to help. We’re not taking volunteers yet,” she said. “If you do see oiled wildlife call 1-877-823-6926. That’s the best way to help.”

The-CNN-Wire
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