Officials react quickly to oil spill off Huntington Beach to limit impacts

Late last Thursday (March 7) an oil sheen was reported off Huntington Beach, giving some Newport Beach officials concern back to the 2021 oil spill near the same area that negatively affected much of the Orange County coast.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, at first light on Friday (March 8), the spill could be seen measuring approximately 2 1/2 miles in length, some 1 1/2 miles off the shoreline of the City of Huntington Beach.

Fortunately, it appears that excellent coordination established following the 2021 spill helped contain and clean up the area.

“Over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard and OSPR (California Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill and Prevention) successfully cleaned up approximately 85 gallons of oil from offshore recovery and approximately 1,050 pounds of oily debris cleaned off the shore,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley. “Orange County knows firsthand the impacts of oil on our local ecosystems and our coastal economy. I remain grateful to our local, state and federal partners for the impressive, expedient, coordinated response to cleaning up the oil efficiently.

“While mostly cleaned up, I encourage residents to protect public health and avoid contact with any tar balls that may wash up on the beach,” added Supervisor Foley.

According to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA,) there is not likely to be a public health threat associated with consuming fish due to the incident.

With offshore recovery concluded, the on-water safety zone is no longer in effect. There are no beach closures, but the public is advised to avoid contact with tar balls along the shoreline.

According to the City of Newport Beach Public Information Office, Newport Beach police and lifeguard personnel were deployed on vessels and monitored the Newport Beach shoreline closely for signs of incoming petroleum. As of early Friday afternoon, the spill was not believed to pose a threat to Newport Beach.

Officials continue to attempt to identify the cause of the spill.

Anyone observing oiled wildlife should not attempt to capture it; instead, please report observations of oiled wildlife to 1.877.UCD.OWCN (1.877.823.6926).

Minimal wildlife was impacted, although some four live birds were being cared for by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Three – a cormorant, a loon and a grebe – were said to be visibly oiled and a snowy plover was additionally taken in for care, unoiled.


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