HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — City and state beaches in Huntington Beach reopened at 6 a.m. Monday after being closed for more than a week following the massive oil spill.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, city beaches in Newport Beach also reopened to the public.READ MORE: Fullerton Police Say They Recovered Loaded Stolen Handgun, Nitrous Oxide
According to a statement released Sunday, Huntington Beach city officials and California State Parks made the joint decision to reopen the beaches after water quality testing found non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in the water.
“With the reopening of the City and State beaches, the city of Huntington Beach and California State Parks remind everyone to utilize caution when visiting the beach,” the release said. “Given the oil spill situation and impacts, an ongoing advisory notice remains in effect for all beaches in Huntington Beach. Beachgoers are advised to avoid areas where an oil smell is present.”
City officials still expect that oiled materials and tar balls will wash up on the beach. People are advised “not to handle or ingest any oil materials.”
If skin contact occurs, people are advised to wash the area with soap and water or baby oil and avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, or similar products on the skin.
The city of Huntington Beach hired an independent contractor to conduct water quality testing on 40 different sites. The testing for all but one of the locations returned non-detectable amounts of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH). The only site that returned a detectable amount was just north of Warner Avenue, the city said, which showed a “non-toxic level” of oil in the water.
Newport Beach officials said water quality testing showed the ocean water is safe for swimmers and surfers to return.
The city issued a beach advisory on October 2, prohibiting public access to the water on ocean-facing beaches, after a large oil spill was identified off the coast of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
“Water quality testing of samples collected on Friday, October 8 did not show unhealthful levels of petroleum-related toxins,” Newport Beach officials said.
The beach openings come more than a week after a pipeline owned by Amplify Energy Corp. leaked thousands of gallons of oil into the waters off the Orange County coast.READ MORE: Dodgers Set To Open NLCS Against Braves
The pipeline rupture and leak was reported on the morning of Oct. 2. The spill occurred in federal waters at the Elly oil-rig platform, about 4 1/2 miles off-shore.
The nearly 18-mile pipeline runs from Amplify Energy’s offshore drilling platforms to a pump station in Long Beach.
Federal authorities have confirmed that a section of Amplify Energy’s oil pipeline was damaged and moved more than 100 feet along the ocean floor, an indication that a ship’s anchor may have caused the spill.
Authorities initially estimated that as much as 144,000 gallons of oil may have leaked from the damaged pipeline, but officials said Thursday the actual amount is likely much lower, although there is still no firm number. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore estimated that roughly 588 barrels of oil had spilled, which would equate to about 24,700 gallons.
There are questions regarding when Amplify Energy actually discovered the leak, and whether there was a delay in reporting it to state and federal authorities.
Meanwhile, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network reported Sunday that its responders had so far recovered 58 species impacted by the spill, 50 birds and eight fish. Twenty-six of the birds were recovered alive, but all eight of the fish were dead.
According to data provided Sunday afternoon by the Unified Command handling the cleanup effort:
— More than 1,600 people are conducting response operations.
— To date, 5,544 total gallons of crude oil have been recovered by vessel.
— 13.6 barrels of tar balls were recovered Saturday.
— Approximately 250,000 pounds of oily debris has been recovered from shorelines.
— 11,400 feet of containment boom have been strategically deployed.
The Unified Command is headed by the U.S. Coast Guard and also includes officials from Orange and San Diego counties, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Amplify Energy Corp.
Contracted cleanup teams were cleaning locations from Seal Beach to San Onofre Beach, while officials were conducting water and soil sampling Sunday along San Onofre Beach.
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Huntington Beach City & State beaches will reopen tomorrow (10/11) at 6am. The joint decision to reopen comes after ocean water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water.
— City of Huntington Beach (@CityofHBPIO) October 11, 2021
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)