UPDATED 3:00 PM PT – Sunday, October 17, 2021
California’s attorney general announced his office is opening an investigation into the oil pipeline leak in Huntington Beach. During a press conference Monday, Rob Bonta discussed the probe into what caused the major crude oil spill.
His announcement came as state and city officials reopened beaches to surfers as well as swimmers after they had been closed for over a week due to the leak. Water quality tests reportedly showed no detectable levels of oil-associated toxins on the shoreline.
Bonta said depending on what the investigation turns up, charges will be filed if the law was broken. He has confirmed oil company Amplify Energy is at the center of his investigation.
“We also wanted to know how this happened, who knew and when,” stated the state attorney general. “That’s why today I’m announcing that the California Department of Justice is investigating the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach. Our investigation will determine the facts and who is ultimately responsible. If our laws were violated, we will hold those responsible accountable.”
The oil spill off of Huntington Beach is an environmental disaster for our fish & wildlife, our communities, & our economy.
— Rob Bonta (@AGRobBonta) October 11, 2021
The U.S. Coast Guard revealed the underwater pipeline, which caused the oil spill off the coast of Southern California, was initially damaged several months to a year ago. In a press conference on Friday, officials said video evidence shows the pipeline was intact in October 2020, but has since moved 150 feet. The investigation has, so far, revealed a ship’s anchor dragged the pipeline, but it wasn’t the only factor which contributed to the rupture.
“When I say multiple incidents, we know that the oil spill started occurring later, at least was noticed later, than several months ago,” announced Capt. Jason Neubauer, U.S. Coast Guard. “So there could be contributing incidents down the line, either anchor strikes or geological events.”
The oil spill created an environmental disaster, which threatened marine life and impacted coastal communities. Coast Guard officials said the investigation is still underway and will now focus on vessel movement above the pipeline over the past year.
Last week, Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore confirmed about 4,000 feet of the pipeline, located off the coast of Huntington Beach, was somehow moved. She added, they also spotted a split in the line at the bend’s peak.
Meanwhile, Amplify Energy President Martyn Willsher said it’s rare for a pipeline to move the way it did. He asserted that he will not speculate about the cause, but will wait for a full investigation to determine the factors.
More than 140,000 gallons of oil spilled out of the pipeline since the rupture was first discovered. The spill caused serious ecological impacts and a major disaster declaration was requested for Orange County. Officials said cleaning up the spill was considered a high priority.
Some people are also still questioning whether Amplify Energy was aware of the problem before reporting it to the public. Federal and state laws require immediate notification of spills and pipeline safety regulators reported the time of the incident at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, even though the pipeline wasn’t shut off until around 6 a.m. that same day.
Meanwhile, California congressman is now pushing to preserve natural resources following the massive oil spill. Rep. Mike Levin (D) surveyed the damage on Monday. He said it’s inconceivable to keep drilling off the California coast considering it doesn’t make up that much oil for the country as a whole. The lawmaker also said there are only 23 active oil rigs in a 200-mile span.
“Why in the world are we drilling for oil out here in this beautiful place with millions and millions of people?” asked the Democrat lawmaker. “And our entire coastal tourism economy, the thousands and thousands of jobs directly linked to having clean beaches and clean water…it’s just inconceivable to me that we would keep drilling for oil.”
Levine reiterated he has authored legislation, which would end all new offshore oil drilling off California’s coast.
SKyTruth analysis of MSC Danit (world's biggest container ship in 2009) using AIS data from @exactEarth shows it repeatedly crossed damaged pipeline off Huntington Beach while "at anchor." Detail in our FB post at https://t.co/Sloxk6O9qF pic.twitter.com/22KLPXnEr5
— SkyTruth (@SkyTruth) October 17, 2021
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard will be questioning the owner and operator of an MSC Mediterranean shipping company cargo ship in connection with the spill. Authorities boarded the vessel in the Port of Long Beach on Saturday, suspecting it was responsible for dragging its anchor across the ocean floor and rupturing the Southern California Pipeline.
As a result, officials said the owner of MSC Danit and the Dordellas Finance Corporation were named as parties of interest. The cargo ship is just one of several ships under investigation as the probe continues.