An oil spill incident in southern California is threatening marine life, scenic beaches and the lifestyle of many residents of this region.
Local officials closed access to the Pacific Ocean, most of the area known as “Surf City USA,” on Sunday. They said the closure could take weeks or months.
Several residents, business owners and environmentalists questioned the speed with which authorities responded to control one of the largest oil spills in California history, in an underwater pipeline that has polluted the sand of Huntington’s famous beach.
People living and working in the area said they noticed signs of oil and a heavy oil breeze on Friday evening. But the Maritime Guard did not respond until Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, the oil company, which operates the oil pipeline, did not close operations until Saturday evening.
On Monday, the Maritime Guard and other state agencies intensified efforts to control the oil spill, engaging a number of vessels to clean up the affected water areas.
About 572,807 liters of crude oil has leaked into the waters off the coast of Orange County, forcing the Lagoon beach to close.
Some birds and fish died due to the oil spill, said Katrina Foley, Orange County official.
The State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Protection warned of a “public health threat” from consuming fish and shellfish caught in the waters of the 32-kilometer-long coastline from the Huntington area to Dana Point.
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