A major oil spill out of Huntington Beach on Saturday night has required the closing of all City and County beaches, including Laguna Beach and Dana Point. OC Parks has also closed Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor.

Both Newport Harbor, Bayside Beach in Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor have also been closed. With the decision made by the Orange County Emergency Center on Monday, Newport Harbor was closed at 11:00 am that day (Oct. 4th), and Dana Point Harbor was closed at 9:00 p.m. that evening.

Boats are not allowed in or out until further notice and travelers are being forwarded to Long Beach Harbor or Huntington Beach Harbour.

Beaches will remain closed until further notice. Stay clear of the beaches and pay attention to any closure or warning signs posted. At this time, no public volunteers are requested – please do not try to assist in the oil cleanup on the beaches. You can, however, donate supplies to conservancy operations up and down the coast, including our own Pacific Marine Mammal Center. See those bulleted requests below.

Mitigation efforts

Amplify Energy, a Houston-based company is responsible for the pipeline spill. The spill was first reported Saturday morning, with more than 127,000 gallons of oil affecting coastal Orange County. Authorities are now investigating the possibility of a ship’s anchor punching a hole in the pipeline.

The closure was announced Sunday night to protect residents and visitors from exposure to contaminated ocean water and to allow contractors to begin cleanup. To date, only about 4,500 gallons have been fished out of the waters.

The US Coast Guard is the lead agency coordinating the response to the oil spill incident. A unified command has been established and consists of Amplify Energy, the US Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. More information about the unified command response may be found at www.SoCalspillresponse.com.

Oil arrives onshore

Crystal Cove announced the arrival of small oil clusters on its shores on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Other beaches within Laguna Beach began reporting similar finds on Monday. Two oil recovery vessels have been working in Laguna Beach waters since Sunday evening and one of the City’s drones has been flying these last two days to look for oil invasion.

For health reasons, stay away

Do not swim or exercise near the spill as the oil is toxic to the touch and in the air. The Orange County Public Health Care Agency also issued a health advisory saying anyone with any of the following symptoms should visit their family physician.

  • Skin, eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Cough or shortness of breath

Orange County officials have noted that public volunteers are not needed at this time and could actually hinder clean up efforts. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has issued a statement noting that their team is assisting wetlands and wildlife personnel. Donations to the Center are greatly appreciated and include:
1. Nitrile gloves, all sizes
2. N95 masks
3. Tyvek suits
4.  Syringes for feeding 60xx, 120cc and 240cc
5. Red rubber feeding tubes, small
6. Collapsible plastic or cardboard animal carrying cases

For questions or concerns, see below: 
Health related questions: Orange County Health Care Agency, (714) 834-2000
Report oil-impacted wildlife concerns: Oiled Wildlife Care Network: (877) 823-6926
Volunteer clean up activities: Surfrider Foundation website or text OILSPILL to 51555

Photo credit: Surfrider Foundation

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