This footage of a ruptured underwater oil pipeline may be the source of an oil spill that has resulted in an estimated 131,000 gallons of oil leaking into the sea on the southern Californian coast.
The true ecological damage caused by the spill is not yet clear but it is believed to have created an oil slick covering about 13 square miles of the Pacific Ocean and killed countless fish, covered birds in petroleum and contaminated wetlands.
The US Coast Guard released the footage showing the suspected source of the oil spill yesterday, on 7th October.
The footage is believed to show a portion of the 1,219-metre (4,000-foot) section of the nearly 28.9 kilometres (18 miles) long oil pipeline with a split estimated to measure 33 centimetres (13 inches).
The spill was first reported on 3rd October but is now largely under control, according to the coastguard.
So far more than 5,500 gallons of crude oil have been recovered and four kilometres (2.5 miles) of beach have been protected with containment booms, the coastguard said.
Kim Carr, Huntington Beach’s Mayor, said: “Our wetlands are being degraded and portions of our coastline are now covered in oil.”
Martyn Willsher, CEO of Amplify Energy, the operator of the pipeline, said in a statement: “The pipeline has essentially been pulled like a bowstring. And so at its widest point is about 105 feet away from where it was. So it is kind of an almost a semicircle.”
Amplify Energy is now facing a class-action lawsuit from various small businesses operating along the coast that have been devastated by the oil spill.
Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) took aim at Amplify Energy and its subsidiary, Beta Offshore in a statement on Wednesday, 6th October, saying: “Their decision not to report the situation to federal authorities for six hours raises serious questions about their integrity and motivations.”
He added: “Given the pipeline operator’s long track record of incidents of non-compliance, it is clear they should not be operating off of our Southern California coast – or anywhere else.”
Congressman Levin also said that: “It’s just not worth drilling along Southern California’s coast. The amount of oil we produce really is a drop in the bucket.”
The congressman says he intends to push legislation that would write the ban into law.
Authorities believe that once they are able to remove the damaged section of pipe and send it to experts for analysis answers about the cause of the spill will emerge.