A wildlife habitat has been destroyed after 127,000 gallons of oil spilled along the Huntington Beach coast in Orange County, California. Officials are working round the clock to clean up the shores. The leak started on Saturday, about 5 miles off the coast, and continued for several hours. Currently, divers are inspecting the 17-mile pipeline to determine the cause of the spill.

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The pipeline is owned and managed by Amplify Energy. Company CEO Martyn Willsher told reporters the spill was first noticed on Saturday morning and immediately reported to the Coast Guard. The small oil company has just over 200 employees, and some of its facilities date back to the 1970s.

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According to Willsher, the pipe has been “suctioned at both ends to keep additional crude out,” and stop further spill until the real cause was determined and corrected.

The spill poses a threat to wildlife and human health. So far, wildlife experts have reported recovering four live birds covered in oil. One of the birds had to be euthanized due to its poor health condition. However, they also say that the extent of ecological damage cannot be estimated at the moment. 

According to Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, dead birds and fish have been spotted washing up on the shores. Foley says habitats that took years to build have been destroyed in a single day, all thanks to the spill.

“These are wetlands that we’ve been working with the Army Corps of Engineers, with (a local) land trust, with all the community wildlife partners to make sure to create this beautiful, natural habitat for decades. And now in just a day, it’s completely destroyed,” Foley said.

Due to the potential health risks to human life, residents have been urged to avoid all recreational activities in the area. All people who may have encountered the oil are encouraged to visit local facilities for medical checkups.


Lead image via Pete Markham