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Oil Spill Closures Leave Newport Beach Businesses Struggling

NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – The indefinite coastline closures prompted by this weekend's massive oil spill have left many Newport Beach businesses struggling.

Oil Spill Closures Leaves Newport Beach Businesses Struggling
The Newport Beach Hotel in Newport Beach, Calif. Oct 5, 2021. (CBSLA)

Hotels have lost bookings, gift shops are empty and restaurants have several open tables.

Domenico Maurici's restaurant, Il Farro, just started recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. He told CBSLA the closures seem "heavy handed."

"Normally here, lots of crowd, lots of people walking, look at that, it's very quiet, people just trying to stay away from the beaches," Maurici said.

"It's (the spill) not as bad as it looks," he added. "Yes, it is a disaster. But so far, closing the beach, I think is a little too much."

Newport Beach offered some access with visitors welcome to go on the sand, but not in the water.

Vessels within Newport Harbor can continue operating in the harbor, but boats are not allowed in or out to keep them from spreading oil, city spokesman John Pope said. With no vessels allowed to leave Newport Harbor, boat and whale watching tours are halted. Commercial lobster fishermen are also facing huge losses.

So far, few oil particles have washed up on Newport Beach shores. Sky2 showed crews Tuesday searching for oil near the Wedge and along Corona Del Mar.

Meanwhile, beaches throughout Orange County remained mostly closed. All O.C.-operated beaches are closed. Seal Beach's beaches remain open because officials say the oil slick has not affected their shores.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has ordered the closure of Southern California fisheries in response to the spill, prohibiting the taking of fish and shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point.

A ruptured pipeline belonging to an oil rig about five miles offshore is the likely cause of the leak that sent up to 144,000 gallons of oil spilling into the ocean. The spill was reported Saturday morning. The cause remains under investigation.

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

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