HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif .– A major oil spill has hit Orange County beaches and wildlife hotspots, with reports of fish and birds found dead and experts predicting “many, many” ‘others will be killed.
Oil was leaking from a broken pipeline on a platform called “Elly” near Long Beach, managed by the Beta Operating Company, a subsidiary of Amplify Energy.
At least 126,000 gallons of oil spilled into the water, officials said on Sunday, although authorities warned the number would rise: the leak had still not been stopped by early afternoon and the government agencies had not received a new estimate.
In an interview with FOX 5’s sister station, KTLA, Heal the Bay CEO Dr Shelley Luce said the oil is “very toxic”.
âWe already have reports of dolphins seen swimming through the oil slick. They can’t get out of this quickly. And now he’s made it to earth, âLuce said. âThis is a toxic spill. And many, many animals are going to die. And much more than we can count, because they will happen at sea. â
Luce pointed out that in addition to larger animals, oil can impact life at the micro level, including plankton, which forms the lowest rung of a food chain that leads to humans.
Huntington State Beach is home to a number of bird species, including gulls, willets, long-billed fletchers, sleek teens and reddish egrets, which are a rarity on the West Coast, according to Ben Smith, biologist and environmental consultant for Orange. County. Of particular concern: sensitive habitats such as Talbert Marsh and Bolsa Chica wetlands.
Foley told KTLA she was in contact with employees from the state’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife who told her they found dead fish and birds early in the morning. Residents have been asked not to try to help any wild animals they encounter that are suffering the consequences of the escape, as this could pose a danger to their health. Instead, they were asked to call California wildlife officials at 877-823-6926.
The spill resulted in the cancellation of the Pacific Airshow and the widespread closure of beaches from Huntington Beach south of Newport Beach.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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