California oil spill sparks concern for wildlife

An oil slick off the coast of California has started washing ashore, killing fish, contaminating wetlands and closing beaches.

About 3,000 barrels of oil have spread over an area covering 13 square miles (33 sq km), off the Orange County coast.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said portions of the coastline were covered in oil.

An investigation into the pipeline breach that caused it is under way.

The slick, about five miles off the coasts of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, was discovered on Saturday morning.

It is thought to be one of the largest oil spills in the state’s recent history, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Authorities are now attempting to contain the oil by using protective booms – a type of floating barrier. Divers are also working at the scene to determine how the leak occurred.

The US Coast Guard has so far deployed 14 boats to conduct oil recovery operations, and three to enforce a safety zone in the area. Four aircraft have also been dispatched to conduct assessments of the spill.

“Wildlife is dying. It’s very sad,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley told CBS News.

She added that there were reports of dead animals along the shore and that Talbert Marsh, an ecological reserve had also suffered “significant damage”.

On Monday morning, the Coast Guard said that approximately 3,150 gallons (14,320 litres) of oil have so far been recovered from the water.

Amplify Energy Corp, which owns three off-shore platforms, said it stopped operations and shut its pipeline on Saturday.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Martyn Willsher said the pipeline had been suctioned to ensure that no more oil would spill.

The area, 40 miles (64km) south of Los Angeles, is extremely popular with surfers. Beaches have been closed and the last day of the Pacific Airshow was cancelled.

Residents have been told not to approach animals affected by the spill and to instead call authorities.

Additionally, officials in Orange County issued a health advisory recommending that anyone who may have encountered contaminated materials seek medical attention.

Michelle Steel, a Republican representative for part of the affected area, has asked President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster, which would allow for funds to help with clean-up operations. -AP

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