An oil spill off the southern California has caused massive damage to the delicate wetland environment in what local officials have described as a catastrophe and a “potential ecological disaster,” Reuters reports.
The spill was caused by a breach connected to the Elly oil rig, which leaked 126,000 gallons, or 3,000 barrels, of oil into the ocean. It rapidly covered 13 square miles of the Pacific Ocean and began its stretch from the Huntington Beach Pier down to Newport Beach.
Kim Carr, the mayor of Huntington Beach, was incensed by the news, noting that, “Our wetlands are being degraded and portions of our coastline are now covered in oil.” Countless fish have died, birds have been left covered in petroleum, and the beaches and areas of the ocean itself have had to be closed off in an effort to contain the spill. It’s likely those beaches will be closed for several weeks.
“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 added. “We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors and our natural habitats.”
The response time to the spill is currently being questioned, AP reports. Here’s a little from the article:
People who live and work in the area said they noticed an oil sheen and a heavy petroleum smell Friday evening.
But it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that the Coast Guard said an oil slick had been spotted and a unified command established to respond. And it took until Saturday night for the company that operates the pipeline believed responsible for the leak to shut down operations.
The skimming equipment and 2,000 feet of protective booms used for the cleanup arrived too late to offer much assistance.
Elly has been operating since 1980 in an area known as the Beta Field. Oil from beneath the ocean is processed by Elly, then taken to Long Beach. Elly is used for separating oil, natural gas, and produced water. It also houses equipment to generate electrical power for the platforms.