Drone shows extent of massive oil spill damage on California beaches

california oil spill

Cleanup efforts are underway after a major oil spill off the coast of Southern California dumped more than 120,000 gallons – or 3,000 barrels – of heavy crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. Drone videos show oil-slicked water at Huntington Beach while crews on the water and onshore work feverishly to limit the environmental damage from the spill.

While the leak – which was first reported to federal and state authorities on Friday evening – appears to have stopped, experts fear the long-term impacts of this disaster on the environment could be significant.

Andrea Bonisoli Alquati, a professor of biological sciences at Cal Poly Pomona, tells NPR that the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on marine and terrestrial wildlife along the Gulf Coast can be seen even today:

The exposure that bird and marine life get subtly through their diet or because of physical contact with the oil might affect their physiology, their health and translate into a lower reproductive success and therefore lower chances of the population to persist. Some populations might recover fast. Some other populations take years and years.

Drone video of oil spill in Southern California

Kim Carr, the mayor of Huntington Beach, has called the oil spill an “environmental catastrophe” and a “potential ecological disaster” at a press conference, adding:

Our wetlands are being degraded and portions of our coastline are now covered in oil. In the coming days and weeks, we challenge the responsible parties to do everything possible to rectify this environmental catastrophe.

Also read: The most stunning, award-winning drone photos of 2021 are here

California oil spill cause under probe

The oil pipeline that leaked heavy crude into coastal waters is owned by Houston-based oil and gas company Amplify Energy. One of the possibilities that the officials investigating the spill are looking into is whether a ship’s anchor may have struck the pipeline on the ocean floor.

The company president and CEO Martyn Willsher maintains the facilities operating the pipeline are inspected every other year, including during the pandemic.

Incidentally, this is not the first time Huntington Beach is bearing the brunt of an oil spill. In 1990, about 417,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the region when an oil tanker ran over its anchor and punctured its hull.

Read more: New drone videos show lava flow, coastline expansion from La Palma volcano

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