Orange County Beaches Reopen After Oil Spill

Orange County shoreline cleanup
Orange County shoreline cleanup
Members of the Orange County shoreline cleanup and assessment team conduct cleanup operations in the vicinity of Corona Del Mar State Beach Park, California, Oct. 6, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Janessa Warschkow.

More than a week after a broken pipeline owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp. leaked thousands of gallons of oil into Orange County waters, area beaches were reopened by officials on Monday.

Beaches in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach reopened Monday. On Friday, Laguna Beach reopened access to the sand but not the shoreline or water.

“The joint decision to reopen comes after coastal ocean and wetlands water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water,” according to the city of Huntington Beach, which hired an independent contractor to test water quality. After testing 40 sites, the contract found no “significant levels” of oil contamination.

The city will continue to “monitor potential toxins” by conducting water quality testing twice a week for the next two weeks at least and will post results on their website, the city said.

Other Orange County beaches remained closed for water activities and recreational fishing is not allowed between Sunset Beach and Dana Point from the shore to six miles out to the water.

Meanwhile, the cause of the spill is still being investigated. On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard said the pipeline could have been hit months ago, judging from the marine growth found on the pipe, the Associated Press reported. Furthermore, the pipeline could have been hit by the anchors of other ships, the USCG said.

“We’re going to be looking at every vessel movement over that pipeline, and every close encroachment from the anchor just for the entire course of the year,” Capt. Jason Neubauer, chief of the Coast Guard’s office of investigation and analysis, told the AP.

By Karen Robes Meeks