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On the morning Saturday, October 2nd a huge oil slick was discovered approximately 5 miles off the coasts of Huntington Beach & Newport Beach. Believed to be the result of a pipeline breach, officials believe over 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons) of oil were released into the environment, making it one of the largest oil spills in California history. Already, a massive environmental toll has been seen, with dead fish and birds washing up on local beaches.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said as of Sunday she has been told by Huntington Beach that the wildlife in the Talbert wetlands has been “dramatically impacted.” “Wildlife is dying. It’s very sad. We do have reports of dead animals along the shore, washing up upon the shore at the Huntington Beach State beach area as well as wildlife within the Marsh and wetlands is dying,” Foley said.
The spill is believed to be originating from a breached pipeline connected to an offshore oil facility owned by Amplify Energy Corporation. The operator of the 41-year old platform, Beta Operating Company, has been cited by federal regulators for more than 100 violations over the last 11 years. Beta was fined a total of $85,000 in 2013 and 2014 for three incidents, according to bureau records — one of which involved the release of oil.
This oil spill may have huge impacts to the economies of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, as visitors are warned to stay away from the beaches and local fishing companies seeing the fish they rely upon perish from the oil. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the commercial fishing industries in the Gulf lost an estimated 25,000 jobs, and $2.3 billion in industry output. Area businesses who rely upon tourists may also see a serious effect to their bottom line.