By Alexander Mousa, Staff Writer
Tensions are high after an oil rig in California spilled oil into the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 2. While the cause is not fully known yet, the Associated Press reported that the spill is believed to be caused by a strike from an anchor of a cargo ship.
Cargo ships frequent the waters off the Southern California coast in order to deliver cargo containers to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The pipeline off the coast of Orange County was ruptured and leaked oil into the Pacific Ocean for hours until it was shut down, causing oil to spew out into the ocean and wash up on the coast.
Students were shocked at the news.
“I remember seeing it on my newsfeed, and I couldn’t believe it,” junior musical theatre major Hannah Winston said. “It reminded me of the BP oil spill that happened when I was a kid. It’s so awful.”
Gov. officials are outraged at the incident.
“I have never seen, nor do I ever again want to see, the beaches of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach this empty,” state senator Dave Min (D-CA) said. “I am 100 percent committed to doing what I can to ensure California’s coastlines never experience another oil spill.”
With the exact cause unknown, the Los Angeles Times reported that increased cargo ship traffic in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have caused ships to have no choice but to drop anchors and wait until they can unload. These waters in which the ships are sitting have oil pipelines and other equipment running beneath them.
Amplify Energy Corporation, the company that operates the pipeline, says that the pipeline was “pulled like a bowstring”.
Amplify has come under scrutiny for ignoring the initial reports and letting the oil spew into the ocean for nearly 12 hours, causing death to wildlife and catastrophic water quality damage across some of the nation’s most popular beaches.
Amplify said that at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 2, the facility was notified of the leak. However, it took until 6 a.m. to shut down the pipeline. This has raised many questions as to why the pipeline wasn’t shut down sooner.
Some people blame the timeline, as there were fewer workers in control room positions that late at night, while others are not convinced that the alarms in the facility were operating correctly.
“I don’t understand why it took so many hours to shut down the pipelines,” Winston said.
Beachgoers and residents in Huntington Beach reported a petroleum smelling odor, as well as oily waters as early as Friday night.
By Monday Oct. 4, the Unified Command found that the pipeline was ruptured and displaced 105 feet from its original position. This is evidence of the line being dragged by some force, most likely a ship.
Reports have come out in recent days that a large cargo ship with its anchor down was seen making erratic movements in the waters off of Huntington Beach just hours before the spill.
This spill has brought attention to the risks and consequences of offshore drilling.
“Those damn platforms, fossil fuels. It’s not very complicated. We need to grow up, grow out of this dependency and this mindset, this mindset that we can’t do more and do better,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said. “I want the Trump administration folks, all those folks out there, all those Republicans out there who still think the answer to the problem is more offshore drilling to just know: Not in our backyard. It won’t happen.”
Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Orange County following the spill.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) gave a statement with more insight about the oil spill to the public on Oct. 4.
“The oil spill off the coast of Orange County reiterates the perils of offshore drilling. A pipeline failure has leaked an estimated 126,000 gallons of oil, killing aquatic wildlife, threatening the health of local communities and forcing several beaches to close,” Feinstein
Feinstein used this spill as a way to raise awareness to pass the West Coast Ocean Protection Act.
“Our bill would permanently ban oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington,” she said. “Californians have made it clear: We don’t want oil drilling off our coast. It’s time to stop dangerous offshore drilling and invest in safer, cleaner energy solutions.”
The general consensus from politicians and residents close to the issue is that offshore drilling is not supported and needs to end. Time will tell whether or not this latest spill has any impact on environmental policy in California, and the nation.