Coast Guard Gives Oil Spill Update As Cleanup Continues

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Coast Guard responds to claims of delayed response to California oil spill

By Ben Burke (Producer)

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.

Capt. Rebecca Ore, US Coast Guard: “We’ve determined that approximately 4,000 feet (1.2 kilometer) of the 17.7 mile (28.4 kilometer) pipeline has been displaced and it’s been laterally displaced by 105 feet. That’s what we know about the pipeline it was determined by a remotely operated vehicle. Subsequent to that, divers were sent down. These were commercially procured divers. They were sent down to assess that pipeline. What they further located was a 13 inch (33 centimeter) split in that pipe, on the side of the pipe that is a likely source of release of oil. What we can say is that from that 13 inch split in that pipeline, there is no visible product that can be observed coming from that line. So there is no oil coming out of that line, from that split on the pipeline.”

“On Friday evening, the national response center released a notification to pollution response agencies to include the United States Coast Guard. That was a report of an unknown sheen of, with an unknown source offshore of Huntington Beach, California. These type of reports are fairly typical for pollution response agencies and they usually result in an initial investigation which is what happened in this case. It is a phone investigation to contact the reporting source and determine any additional or amplifying information that will allow us to clarify and determine follow up actions with that report. At that time it approaches nightfall, sheens can be very difficult to see on the water. The information from the reporting source that Coast Guard investigators spoke with was inconclusive.”

Lt. Christian. Corvo, California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife: “As of today, we have six SCAT (Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique) teams assessing shoreline impact. Those teams are made up of three individuals and they’re at this time assessing from Laguna Beach all the way down to San Clemente based on potential trajectories, where this oil made landfall. Those teams report back to the command each day and based on their recommendations and strategies we deploy teams of cleanup crews in the morning. Currently, we have 16 teams of shoreline cleanup teams consisting of a total of 300 cleanup personnel doing those hand cleaning, collecting oily debris, oily sand, any impacted shoreline.”

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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.

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