December 2, 2021

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Officials investigating another possible oil spill near Huntington Beach – OCRegister

3 min read

Officials were investigating the possibility of another oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach after a sheen was seen on the water in the vicinity of the damaged pipeline Saturday afternoon, Nov. 20, authorities said.

Pollution responders were investigating a 30-foot-by-70-foot sheen, said Jenna Driscoll, liaison officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The source of the sheen had not been determined, and it was not known when it was first spotted.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol sent resources, Orange County Supervisior Katrina Foley said. And Huntington Beach deployed a helicopter and boats to assist with the investigation, Mayor Kim Carr said.

As of about 2 p.m., the sheen was no longer visible, Driscoll said.

Divers conducting planned assessments on the pipeline had noticed “small droplets on the syntho-glass wrap” placed around the pipeline after the initial rupture, she said as part of a later update. That wrap was replaced and officials planned to monitor the situation overnight.

Crews were still working to determine whether the sheen was associated with the small droplets found on the wrap, Driscoll said.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said the substance didn’t resemble what officials saw last month.

“A sheen is going to be lighter in nature and it’ll be thin; basically what you see when you drop gasoline into water, that’s a sheen. An oil slick is going to be more obvious, thick oil on top of water, and that’s what we saw when the initial spill happened.”

The pipeline has been shut down since the original spill on Oct. 2.

“It could be nothing, it could be something, but we want to be sure we get an investigation out quickly,” Foley said on Saturday. “We’re all in. We don’t want to repeat what happened last time.”

In October, an estimated 26,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean and came ashore from Huntington Beach to Dana Point after an anchor from a cargo ship struck and ruptured the pipeline, officials said.

O.C. beaches were closed for days and cleanup efforts following the spill took nearly a month. The spill killed 82 birds and six mammals, according to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard have since boarded three ships, the most recent on Thursday, believed to have been in the area when the pipeline was ruptured in order to assess their anchors and electronic equipment as well as interview crew members.

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