Efforts to contain oil spill off OC coast continue, fishing ban announced

State wildlife officials on Monday announced a ban on fishing or collecting any shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point as a public health measure following a devastating oil spill that authorities are working to contain and clean up.

“Take of all fish and shellfish is immediately prohibited from Huntington Beach to Dana Point, including the shorelines and offshore areas and all bays” until further notice, a news release from the Callifornia Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

Crews continued working Monday to contain at least 126,000 gallons of oil believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches.

Late Sunday, Laguna Beach joined other coastal agencies closing its beaches while crews get a handle on an oil spill that was spreading south over the weekend, and the county said Monday morning it is closing the beaches it operates in Laguna.

Newport officials also announced Monday they would temporarily close the city’s harbor to vessel traffic as they try to prevent any oil from drifting in.

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach officials had already announced people should stay away from their beaches.

While Laguna Beach wasn’t seeing the spill on its shoreline, city officials were expecting the spread could reach that area and decided to close the beach for the public’s safety and “to allow contractors to begin oil cleanup if such an event occurs,” a city statement said.

An update from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network on efforts to rescue and clean any wildlife caught in the spill was expected at a 10 a.m. press conference. Rescue groups in Orange County were preparing Sunday to take in birds and other sea life.

The spill from the rig off Long Beach was first reported Saturday morning. Eric Laughton, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife, said Sunday evening the pipeline could hold 144,000 gallons but some oil had been recovered from the pipeline.

As of Sunday afternoon, 3,150 gallons of oil had been recovered from the water, 5,360 feet of boom was deployed to contain the spill, and at least 14 boats were working on recovery efforts, according to information from the U.S Coast Guard.

On Monday morning, dozens of workers in hazmat suits could be seen picking up globs of oil from the shoreline at Huntington State Beach, and passersby stopped to watch the cleanup.

Though the coastline looked cleaner than it did Sunday, when streaks of black were visible along the waterline and clumps of oil dotted the beach. Still, patches of the viscous substance remained strewn along the sand and further out at sea.

Workers with Patriot Environmental Services mop up oil on the surface of the water at Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach, CA on Monday, October 4, 2021. Officials continued working to contain at least 126,000 gallons of oil believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Workers at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, on the border of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, clean up damage from an oil spill in Orange County, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Workers pick up globules of oil on the beach in Huntington Beach, CA on Monday, October 4, 2021.
At least 126,000 gallons of oil are believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Workers at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, on the border of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, clean up damage from an oil spill in Orange County, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A sign where the Santa Ana River empties into the ocean warns that the water is closed in Newport Beach, CA on Monday, October 4, 2021.
At least 126,000 gallons of oil are believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Workers at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, on the border of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, clean up damage from an oil spill in Orange County, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Scott White picks up globules of oil at the mouth of the Santa Ana River at the Huntington Beach/Newport Beach border on Monday, October 4, 2021. White, of Costa Mesa, had been out the previous day picking up oil with his wife and kids. He said he plans out continuing to come out until the oil is gone.
At least 126,000 gallons of oil are believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Workers with Patriot Environmental Services mop up oil on the surface of the water at Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach, CA on Monday, October 4, 2021. Officials continued working to contain at least 126,000 gallons of oil believed to have leaked from a broken pipeline connected to an off-shore oil rig. The oil has fouled the water and coastline mostly in Huntington and Newport beaches. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Lifeguards ready to post signs warning that water contact may cause illness, as they close the beach after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., Sunday., Oct. 3, 2021. The closure stretched from the Huntington Beach Pier nearly 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) south to the Santa Ana River jetty amid summerlike weather that would have brought beachgoers to the wide strand for volleyball, swimming and surfing. Yellow caution tape was strung between lifeguard towers to keep people away. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A temporary sand berm sits at the inlet to the Talbert Marsh to prevent more oil from entering the wetland in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Booms float in the Talbert Marsh as workers try to limit the spread of oil from a spill from an offshore oil rig in Huntington Beach, CA, on Monday, October 4, 2021. The U.S Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which comprised 126,000 gallons of oil and covered about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The spill emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore about five miles off the coast, and was likely caused by a pipeline leak. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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Ocean conditions on Monday were in the workers’ favor, as the light offshore wind and small swell weren’t pushing the toxic oil to shore.

Jayme Markle, who rode a bike from her Huntington Beach home to check out the situation, called it “tragic.”

“It shouldn’t be a surprise because we have oil rigs. But you don’t expect this sort of thing. This is a huge tourism town – I don’t how this is going to impact businesses.”

This is the largest spill in Orange County in three decades and it has led to major ecological damage in Huntington Beach that could close the shoreline for weeks or months, officials said.

The Coast Guard is leading the response to the spill, which covers about 5.8 nautical miles between the Huntington Beach Pier and Newport Beach. The oil emanated from a facility operated by Beta Offshore, and likely was caused by a pipeline leak.

Ryan Lawler, owner of Newport Coastal Adventure, said he got reports Saturday through the afternoon that the spill was small and contained. Then by 11 p.m., he heard the oil may be coming to shore.

A boat captain went out on Sunday morning and said it was “super gross” out on the water.

Lawler was frustrated no one reached out to local boat companies to warn about possible exposure to the oil hazards.

He said the waters recently have been “productive” with wildlife. On Saturday, they watched a pod  of probably 1,000 dolphins with a dozen sea lions and thousands of birds all feeding on anchovies three miles out, “ground zero” from where the spill occurred, he said.

“It’s going to be devastating,” he said. “We’re going to have to brace ourselves for a really nasty couple of weeks here. I don’t know how they are going to clean it up.”

Rich Baranoski, a captain with Newport Coastal Adventure, didn’t know the severity of the spill when he took a tour group out on the water.

“About three miles off, it’s disgusting,” he said Sunday. “Black clumps of water, sheen all over the place and miles of it. Miles and miles of it. There’s dolphins swimming through the oil. It’s disheartening.”

“I understand accidents happen, but at the same time I’m concerned about our environment and really wondering what’s going to happen with our marine life and not to mention the fishing aspects, the lobster guys,” he said.

James Pribram, an environmentalist who grew up in Laguna, stopped by early Monday in time to see workers putting up beach closure signs. There was no oil to be seen on the sand, but that doesn’t mean there’s none floating around offshore; the waters off Laguna Beach are a Marine Protected Area with sensitive ocean habitat.

“In a couple days, we get some west swell and some wind with it. That’s really what we don’t want,” Pribam said. “That’s bringing it right to our shoreline…It’s going to be a waiting game to see how far it spreads.”

Check back for more updates throughout the morning and afternoon.

Related links

Major oil spill closes OC beaches, kills wildlife in Huntington Beach
Oil spill underscores urgency to shut wells, environmentalists say
Oil spill: What is Beta Offshore and what does it do?
First birds from oil spill headed to wildlife rescue center

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