The cause of an oil spill in California has been probed, the anchor of a ship cited as …

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(Adding offshore congestion reflects port safeguards)

By Daniel Trotta

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., Oct.4 (Reuters) – Other oil from a massive spill at sea landed on the southern California coast on Monday, with beaches closed and dead fish and birds washed up on the shore as authorities were investigating whether a ship anchor hitting a pipeline could have triggered the leak.

Crews dressed in white overalls and helmets raced against an approaching storm as they cleaned up damage from 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons) of oil that spilled into the Pacific Ocean in recent days from ” a pipeline connected to an offshore installation belonging to a unit of Amplify Energy Corp. .

Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher told a press conference on Monday that it was possible that a ship anchor had struck the pipeline. Earlier, he said the line had been closed and the remaining oil had been removed. Shares of the company plunged 44% in intense trading.

Dozens of container ships recently ran aground off the coast, awaiting their turn to enter the port. The Coast Guard is assessing whether one of their anchors could have touched the line, said Captain Rebecca Ore. “It is possible that they are passing through a pipeline,” she said.

As crews worked to clear areas near the beach and wetlands stretching from the ocean to inland on the east side of the coastal highway, residents told local news stations they had smelled foul on Friday and worried about the lack of attention to reporting. .

Willsher said Amplify did not receive any reports of the odor on Friday. The pipeline and oil rig are managed by a California affiliate of the Houston-based offshore crude oil producer.

Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles said the department received several reports of foul odor on Thursday and Friday, but such reports are common and the city has not received any official reports of an oil spill. before Saturday noon.

One of the issues investigated will be when the reports were received, Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley said. “Sailors and others reported seeing a shine on Friday night,” she told the press conference.

Authorities deployed 2,050 feet (625 meters) of protective booms, which help contain and slow the flow of oil, and about 3,150 gallons were recovered on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Amplify’s Willsher said the company has identified an area that could be the source of the leak, which divers will examine. However, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Amplify divers should not approach the pipeline without the supervision of independent investigators like the US Coast Guard.

“Society should not be responsible for conducting its own investigation into the hundreds of millions of dollars in devastation to our environment and our economy,” Spitzer said.

Huntington Beach, about 40 miles (65 km) south of Los Angeles, had 13 square miles (34 km²) of ocean and portions of its coastline “covered with oil,” Mayor Kim Carr said. The city, which goes by the name of Surf City USA, is one of the few places in Southern California where oil rigs are visible from the beach.

Among the threatened areas was the Magnolia Swamp, a wetland that was rehabilitated after a local conservation organization purchased the land in 2008. Up to 90 species of birds use the area each year, including eight to 10 that are endangered or threatened, officials said.

The pier at Huntington Beach, a popular surf spot, was closed and the water was empty. Further up the coast on the beach in Bolsa Chica state, surfer Marty Kish, 45, said he and other surfers were angry.

“Everyone asks, ‘How could this have happened? “,” Kish said.

Some 23 oil and gas production facilities operate in federal waters off the California coast, according to the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Amplify’s Beta Offshore unit has three, including the Elly offshore platform, where the pipeline was connected.

Federal officials have stepped up their scrutiny of aging and inactive offshore energy pipelines. Energy companies have built 40,000 miles (64,000 km) of oil and gas pipelines in federal offshore waters since the 1940s.

Regulators have failed to consider the risks associated with unused pipelines, platforms and other infrastructure on the seabed, the U.S. watchdog Government Accountability Office (GAO) said this year.

“As pipelines age, they are more susceptible to damage from corrosion, mudslides and seabed erosion,” GAO said. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Gene Blevins and Jessica Resnick Ault; Editing by Gary McWilliams, David Gaffen and David Gregorio)

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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