Coast

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Coast Guard received multiple reports of a possible fuel spill off the Southern California coast earlier than previously disclosed and asked local authorities to investigate about 15 hours before its own personnel confirmed a large oil slick, which came from a leaking undersea pipeline, records show.

Officials release birds after they were treated for oiling and have now recovered from the Huntington Beach, Calif., shore on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The spill washed blobs of oil ashore affecting wildlife and the local economy, though the environmental damage so far has been less than initially feared. But environmental advocates say the long-term impact on sensitive wetland areas and marine life is unknown and shop owners in surf-friendly Huntington Beach fear concern about oil will keep tourists away even once the tar is gone. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin) © Provided by Associated Press Officials release birds after they were treated for oiling and have now recovered from the Huntington Beach, Calif., shore on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The spill washed blobs of oil ashore affecting wildlife and the local economy, though the environmental damage so far has been less than initially feared. But environmental advocates say the long-term impact on sensitive wetland areas and marine life is unknown and shop owners in surf-friendly Huntington Beach fear concern about oil will keep tourists away even once the tar is gone. (AP Photo/Amy Taxin) FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, cargo vessels are seen anchored offshore, sharing space with oil platforms, before heading into the Los Angeles-Long Beach port. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, cargo vessels are seen anchored offshore, sharing space with oil platforms, before heading into the Los Angeles-Long Beach port. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

The initial reports of a possible spill north of the Huntington Beach pier came into the Coast Guard about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s memo provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. The documents said there were multiple similar calls over a marine radio emergency channel from boats leaving the Huntington Beach air show.

FILE - This Oct. 7, 2021, aerial file image taken with a drone, shows the closed beach after oil washed up in Newport Beach, Calif. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File): California Oil Spill © Provided by Associated Press California Oil Spill

The department, which runs the county’s harbor patrol, sent a fireboat to search for the spill, but the crew lost visibility as darkness fell, according to the memo obtained through the California Public Records Act. The spill wasn’t confirmed until about 9 a.m. Saturday.

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The Coast Guard did not immediately comment on the documents, which raise more questions about the agency’s response to a spill that forced the closure of some of the region’s signature beaches and harmed animal and plant life.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, who chairs a state legislative committee looking into the spill, said she was told the spill was reported much later Friday evening when it was too late to detect because of darkness.

“It seems too crazy in a world where we’re trying to send a man to Mars that we can’t inspect a potential oil slick in the dark,” she said.

Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Coast Guard should have responded more aggressively after getting the initial reports.

“An investigation should have immediately taken place, and it could have significantly reduced the size of the spill,” said Sakashita, whose organization has called on the federal government to stop offshore oil drilling. “Among all those reports, you should be able to triangulate that there’s something that needs investigation immediately.”

Prior to release of the sheriff’s department documents it was thought that the first word of a possible spill came to the Coast Guard at 6:13 p.m. on Oct. 1 from a foreign ship anchored off Huntington Beach that reported a sheen on the water that was more than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) long.

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach in Corona Del Mar after an oil spill in Newport Beach, Calif. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach in Corona Del Mar after an oil spill in Newport Beach, Calif. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Rear Adm. Brian Penoyer previously told the AP that the Coast Guard put out a radio broadcast to vessels in the area and oil platforms looking for reports confirming a possible spill. But Capt Rebecca Ore, the unified response commander, said no such broadcasts were made.

Coast Guard officials said they needed to look into what — if anything — was done at the time, but have repeatedly declined to answer questions about the purported broadcast.

This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows the stern of the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., MSC DANIT, left, a large container ship anchored outside the Port of Los Angeles. Federal investigators have said they believe the 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught the pipeline operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy and pulled it across the seafloor early this year. At right is the AS Constantina container ship. They have not determined whether impact with the Panama-registered MSC DANIT caused this spill or if the line was hit by something else or failed due to a preexisting problem. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) © Provided by Associated Press This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows the stern of the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A., MSC DANIT, left, a large container ship anchored outside the Port of Los Angeles. Federal investigators have said they believe the 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught the pipeline operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy and pulled it across the seafloor early this year. At right is the AS Constantina container ship. They have not determined whether impact with the Panama-registered MSC DANIT caused this spill or if the line was hit by something else or failed due to a preexisting problem. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Penoyer said the Coast Guard did not send a boat out to look for the spill because it was limited by darkness and didn’t have the technology to detect it. The report by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, however, says the Coast Guard did request that the Harbor Patrol dispatch a boat.

This Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows the MSC DANIT anchored outside the Port of Los Angeles. Federal investigators have said they believe a 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught the pipeline operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy and pulled it across the seafloor early this year. They have not determined whether impact with the Panama-registered MSC DANIT caused this spill or if the line was hit by something else or failed due to a preexisting problem. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) © Provided by Associated Press This Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows the MSC DANIT anchored outside the Port of Los Angeles. Federal investigators have said they believe a 1,200-foot (366-meter) cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught the pipeline operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy and pulled it across the seafloor early this year. They have not determined whether impact with the Panama-registered MSC DANIT caused this spill or if the line was hit by something else or failed due to a preexisting problem. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The next morning, the Coast Guard reached out again to the Harbor Patrol, and its hazardous materials investigators went out on a county fireboat. Authorities on that boat located a miles-long black plume several miles offshore, the memo said.


Video: U.S. Coast Guard boards ship in connection with California oil spill (Reuters)

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