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Pipeline Owners, Amplify Energy, Suggest A Ship's Anchor Caused Oil Leak Off OC Coastline

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) - A U.S. Coast Guard cutter ship carried a small group of people to Platform Elly off the coast of Huntington Beach Wednesday.

The pipeline, which runs to the Long Beach shore and is responsible for leaking oil into the waters off of the Orange County coast, is connected to Elly.

Officials with Amplify Energy, the owners of the offshore platform, suggested that a ship's anchor hooked into the pipeline and caused the leak.

Asked if the traffic jam of cargo ships in the channel might have struck the pipeline and caused the leak, an official with the Coast Guard said those vessels are not near the pipeline.

"The parking lot, the anchorage spots that we have available for them is set up for a certain amount of vessels and those areas are still not by the pipeline. The masters and captains of those vessels know where pipeline and cable crossings are and they cannot anchor there," said Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier.

It was first estimated that that 125,000 gallons of oil leaked from the pipeline over the weekend, but officials say it may be less than that and they're investigating.

The Coast Guard continues to fly over miles of beaches, while crews on the ground work to pick up globs of tar and oil.

"We have a gallon estimate over 5,000 gallons of oil recovered and that's from on-water recovery. Then, we have oil that's been picked up by our teams on the beaches," said one official.

Beaches, harbors and fisheries remain closed along much of the Orange County coastline and there's no estimate when they'll reopen. Ribbons of oil floating on the ocean continue to move south. So far, wildlife specialists have collected 15 oiled birds, two of them did not survive.

(credit: CBS)

"Today, we continue our large scale operations covering beaches and water from north of Bolsa Chica all the way down to San Onefre," an official with the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

At an afternoon press conference, the CEO of Amplify Energy continued to insist that the leak was discovered Saturday morning.

Official government documents, however, reveal that employees at Amplify Energy knew about some kind of problem hours before that.

"So, we were not aware of any spill until 8:09 a.m. on Saturday morning. I promise you, if we were aware of something on Friday night, I promise you we would've immediately stopped all operations and moved forward," the CEO of Amplify Energy said.

Local officials are putting out the call for volunteers to help get the Orange County coastline reopened.

"We need thousands of people to get this beach back open, get our harbors back open. The more people who sign up and register to get trained and help volunteer to cleanup the beaches, the sooner we'll get out of this mess," an Orange County official said.

For more information on volunteering for the cleanup effort, follow this link.

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