National and local beaches will open Monday at 6:00 a.m., just over a week after an oil pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. Officials say they recovered at least 5,544 gallons of oil and 13.6 barrels of tar balls. They say in a worst-case scenario, more than 131,000 gallons could have spilled into the waters.
“The health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance. We understand the importance of our beaches to tourism, our economy and our overall livelihoods here in Huntington Beach,” said the Mayor of Huntington Beach, Kim Carr, in a press release. . “It is important that our decision to reopen our shoreline and our water is data driven and that we continue to monitor water quality in the future. “
Bathers should be alert to noxious odors and avoid areas with oiled materials and tar balls.
Senator Alex Padilla and California Attorney General Rob Bonta will be in Orange County Monday afternoon for a briefing on the oil spill, a site visit and a media outreach.
Crack may have happened up to a year ago
The pipeline was intact in October 2020 before being diverted 105 feet, eventually resulting in damage to its casing and a crack, according to Jason Neubauer, head of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Bureau of Investigation and Analysis. They believe the 13-inch linear crack was likely caused by a ship’s anchor dragging along the seabed.
A video released Thursday by the Coast Guard showed marine growth on the damaged portion of the pipeline, which was initially encased in concrete. Neubauer explained that the linear fracture on the pipeline could have been a very gradual crack, which got worse over time.
“This event could be multiple incidents and strikes on the pipeline after the initial event, which we are pretty confident happened several months to a year ago,” Neubauer said.
Investigators are also looking at geological events, including inclement weather in mid-January, which may have contributed to the crack. A section of the pipe will be transported to the National Transportation Safety Board laboratory, so investigators can determine when and how the leak occurred.
While similar anchor strikes have occurred over the past 10 years, Neubauer said there was only one event that led to an oil spill, which he called ” rare”.
CNN’s Stella Chan and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.