VENTURA (CBSLA.com) – Clean-up crews were checking several beaches along the Ventura County coastline Friday where oil has been reportedly seen washing ashore, authorities said.
The oil was being found in ball- or disc-shaped clumps – commonly called tar balls – in small quantities from Hollywood Beach to Faria Beach, according to Kevin McGowan, manager of the Ventura County Sherriff’s Office of Emergency Services.
City officials in Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Ventura were also aware of the clean-up effort, and the county’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated to support the investigation and clean-up activities, McGowan said.
The effort comes as several beaches along the South Bay coastline remained closed as the mysterious globs, which range in size from golf balls to softballs, were seen along the shoreline from the El Segundo jetty to the Torrance/Redondo Beach border.
“We don’t know at this time if the oil is from naturally occurring seeps or if it is related to the spill near Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara County,” said McGowan. “Testing will be done to determine the source of the oil, but for now, our primary concern is clearing it from our beaches.”
Authorities with the Ventura County Environmental Health Division are documenting phone calls in the effort as well.
While there doesn’t appear to be a significant threat to public health or wildlife, officials are urging the public to avoid contact with any oil or tar balls while the clean-up effort continues.
“Our goal at this point is to find the oil, remove it and mitigate any environmental impact it may have caused,” said Chris Stephens, Director of the Resource Management Agency that oversees Environmental Health.
Anyone who sees oil on the water or an unusually high number of tar balls on shore is asked to call the Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.