Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D – Orange County) participated in an aerial investigation of an emerging oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach with the United States Coast Guard. Afterwards, he issued the statement below.
Reports of an oil leak off the coast of Huntington Beach began emerging on Friday evening with conflicting reports about size and source. Throughout the day and into the evening, it was determined that the oil plume was the result of a spill from oil platform Elly, located off the coast of Huntington Beach. Updated estimates classify it as a “Major Spill” and the plume appears to stretch from Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach.
“First and foremost we absolutely must focus on mitigating damage to environmentally sensitive and hard-to-clean sites (i.e. marshes, rocky areas, sandy beaches) and cleaning up this mess before it escalates and impacts public and wildlife health,” said Senator Umberg. “There’s little doubt that this has the potential to be an environmental crisis. Rest assured – we will work within the area’s elected delegation to determine the cause of the incident at Oil Platform Elly.”
The Coast Guard, federal regulators, and Elly’s managers have deployed teams to both contain and begin clean-up of the plume to curtail damage to our public beaches and wildlife. Clean-up crews are being disbursed out of a joint command center established at the Port of Long Beach. And the City of Huntington Beach is deploying booms to key locations to prevent oil intrusion into sensitive areas, including the Warner Bridge Inlet and the tide inlet channels connecting to the Huntington Beach and Bolsa Chica Wetlands. Additional resources are being considered for the Anaheim Bay inlet, which is the ocean access point for Huntington Beach Harbor.
“The time will come for finger-pointing and solutions,” continued the Senator. “I was fortunate to tour the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve just earlier this week – it’s imperative that we work quickly and in a coordinated manner to prevent this amazing and unique space from being damaged or destroyed. To that end, I will be working directly with the U.S. Coast Guard in the coming weeks to help coordinate volunteer efforts for both organizations and the public. In the meantime, I urge all SD34 residents and tourists to stay off the beach to allow officials to be able to do their jobs.”