The Coast Guard acknowledged Tuesday it was originally notified of last week’s massive oil spill in California 12 hours before an oil company reported the spill over the weekend. Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer told The Associated Press a “good Samaritan” reported a sheen on the water, presumably from the oil spill, last Friday night. However, when the Coast Guard put out a broadcast to the many cargo and tanker ships anchored off the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, it did not receive any supporting reports of an oil spill.
Penoyer cited the lack of corroborating reports, as well as darkness and a lack of technology, for why the Coast Guard did not respond until Amplify Energy reported the oil spill Saturday morning.
“In hindsight, it seems obvious, but they didn’t know that at that time,” Penoyer said. “So putting yourself in the position of what they did know, this is a very normal process.”
However, Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore later disputed Penoyer’s claim that the Coast Guard put out a broadcast about a possible oil spill. She also gave more details on the damage to the affected pipeline. The video above shows clips from a Tuesday afternoon update.
According to Ore, divers determined about 4,000 feet of the pipeline was “laterally displaced” by about 105 feet. Investigators said this happened about 5 miles offshore at a depth of just 100 feet. Ore did not say what might have caused the displacement, but she added the pipeline had a 13-inch gash in it.
Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher said the pipe was displaced into “almost a semicircle”.
“The pipeline has essentially been pulled like a bow string,” Willsher said.
As beach closures and cleanup efforts persisted into Tuesday, so did the investigation into what caused the spill that leaked up to 126,000 gallons of heavy crude. According to investigators, preliminary reports suggest the failure may have been “caused by an anchor that hooked the pipeline, causing a partial tear.”
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley expressed concern Amplify could withhold evidence from the investigation. On Tuesday, the county’s emergency manager reassured the Board of Supervisors the Coast Guard was on the scene as well to make sure the oil spill probe is independent.
“It is an investigation with objective parties involved, so that we will eventually know the outcome,” Michelle Anderson said.