California Officials Fear Oil Spill Damage Is ‘Irreversible’ As Cleanup Begins

by John Jamison

It’s a sad day for the marine life of Southern California, Outsiders. On Saturday, the United States Coast Guard responded to an oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach. Now, however, Orange County believes that much of the damage to the local environment is “irreversible.”

We don’t yet know the exact cause of the spill. But according to ABC News, it originated from a California-based operation of the Amplify Energy Corporation out of Houston, Texas. On Saturday, the Coast Guard confirmed that the oil slick was 13 square miles in size and just three miles off the coast. For reference, roughly 3,000 barrels worth of oil is still in the water.

The leak is no longer active. And officials are taking “prompt and aggressive” action to combat the oil’s effects. Unfortunately, however, it seems that much of the damage has already been done.

“The impact to the environment is irreversible. We must identify the cause of the spill, and for the greater good of our cities, beaches, and coastal ecological habitat we need to understand how to prevent these incidences moving forward,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley wrote in a statement.

“You can’t get wildlife back that are killed in this process, and some of the habitat the plant species, they’re going to be impacted for years to come,” she added.

The chief suspect in the leak is the Beta Operating Company, a subsidiary of the Amplify Energy Corporation. Per ABC, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement cited the company 72 times for safety violations.

California Marine Life Organizations Put to the Test in Wake of Oil Spill

The situation off the coast of Huntington Beach represents one of the biggest oil spills in California history. Entire coastal communities don’t see challenges like this every day. Many of the people working to save the ecosystem don’t have experience in this type of situation. That doesn’t mean they’re giving up, however.

For example, People reports that the Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center is in full crisis mode. Community Relations manager Krysta Higuchi explained the situation.

“We’re not entirely sure of the magnitude just yet. It’s definitely an all hands on deck kind of situation. We are trained for it, but it’s training you never want to have to use. We usually see the marine mammals a couple of days to a couple of weeks after an event,” she said.

As the clean-up gets underway, organizations like the Laguna Beach center will better understand what they’re facing. The spill is a “potential ecological disaster,” according to Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr.

At any rate, many of Southern California’s most popular beaches are closed. They will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.