California Oil Spill

After the oil spill that occurred off the shore of Huntington Beach, many people have helped clean up after the environmental disaster.

Courtesy of the Orange County Register.

After the oil spill that occurred off the shore of Huntington Beach, many people have helped clean up after the environmental disaster.

Fiona Salisbury, Photojournalist

On October 2nd, an oil spill in Huntington Beach was confirmed after residents reported the smell of petroleum. According to Megan Chou (11), “It is devastating that this has happened because so much harm has been done to our coast.” This oil spill comes from a ruptured oil pipeline owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy. Because of this devastating event, there have been severe environmental consequences, and the coastal community of Surf City has been economically harmed.

Even though the environmental consequences are not as severe as people originally feared, the long term effects of the oil spill can not yet be determined. As of now, many marine animals have been negatively affected by the oil spill. According to Eyewitness News, since the oil spill occurred, ten birds covered in oil have been found dead, and twenty-five more have been taken to a wildlife center to recover. Fish can also ingest the oil that is spilled, and this can continue up the food chain and have even more negative consequences. 

Compared to an oil spill that occurred in 1990 that had more detrimental effects to the ocean ecosystem, much damage was prevented in this spill because people were able to create barriers in nearby marshes. Still, the Coast Guard has predicted that the oil spill has caused between 25,000 and 132,000 gallons of oil, and tar balls have been found around 50 miles away from the spill ‒ proof that the environment has been impacted.

Less obvious than the environmental consequences, economic consequences have resulted in  the closure of communities that surround the beaches. Even though the beaches have been reopened, many people are still wary of returning to the impacted coastal communities, and this has caused local businesses to struggle. If events progress the way they did during the 1990 oil spill, it could potentially take a year or two for tourism to return to the levels they were before the oil spill because potential tourists would instead go to other beaches that were not affected by the oil spill. Visitors have returned to many of the beaches that have been affected, but the numbers have been small and they have been urged to remain cautious.

In order to address this problem, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, has started an investigation over the massive oil spill. Bonta has stated that he will do his best to get to the bottom of the disaster and hold the people responsible for the oil spill accountable. Authorities plan to investigate how a ship potentially dragged and damaged the oil pipeline as well as how well Amplify Energy maintained their pipelines. Orange County plans to investigate other oil pipelines in order to prevent future oil spills. Other people have also been proposing a ban on offshore drilling.