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Enormous Huntington Beach Oil Spill Closes Dana Point Harbor Indefinitely

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – A massive pipeline leak which sent tens of thousands of gallons of oil spilling into Orange County's coastal waters has now forced the closure of Dana Point Harbor.

Major Oil Spill Fouls Southern California Beaches
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: In an aerial view, shorebirds feed amid oil contaminating Huntington State Beach after a 126,000-gallon oil spill from an offshore oil platform on October 4, 2021 in Huntington Beach, California. The spill forced the closure of the popular Great Pacific Airshow yesterday with authorities closing beaches in the vicinity. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center reported Tuesday that Dana Point Harbor is closed indefinitely. Boats will not be allowed to enter or exit the harbor.

Further, Orange County Parks and Recreation announced that Baby Beach, which is located within the harbor, is also closed.

All Orange County-operated beaches are currently closed. Visitors to Newport Beach have access to the sand, but not the water, a city spokesman said. Seal Beach's beaches remain open because officials say the oil slick has not affected their shores.

TIMELINE: Huntington Beach Oil Spill

The spill with originated with a leak from an offshore rig pipeline may have sent as much as 144,000 gallons of oil into the ocean, authorities said.

It was likely caused by a pipeline leak from the rig Elly, a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, officials said.

There has been speculation that a ship anchor may have struck the line. Martyn Willsher, president and chief executive of Houston-based Amplify Energy, parent company of the oil rig Elly, said that is among the possibilities being examined, but he declined to comment until a closer inspection is done.

Willsher said his company plans to send divers down to inspect a pipeline "to verify what we're seeing" from Remotely Operated Vehicles, or ROV, scans in hopes of confirming a cause of the leak.

The spill was reported at about 9 a.m. Saturday, although some people reported smelling oil in the water late Friday. The Los Angeles Times reported that the state received a notification from an unknown source on Friday night about a sheen in the water. Amplify Energy did not report the leak to the state until about 9 a.m Saturday, saying it had occurred around 2:30 a.m.

About 4,158 gallons of oil has been recovered from the water and 8,700 feet of boom has been deployed to control the spread of the oil.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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