Orange County: 1 after oil spill off Huntington Beach coast, wildlife biologists call for decommissioning of platforms

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Locals and biologists agreed: The 2021 oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach had the worst impact on wildlife.

Dan Malane saw the effects of the spill as he rode his bike on the boardwalk.

“The fish were turned over and flapping and shaking and things like that,” he said.

Michael Ziccardi, the director of the Oiled Care Network out of UC Davis, helped with response efforts.

“The oil spill in Huntington Beach, obviously, was a tremendous problem for the animals. We collected more than 130 during that response and cared for them,” Ziccardi said.

READ ALSO | Massive oil spill on OC coast reportedly kills wildlife, forces cancellation of Pacific Airshow

Although devastating, it wasn’t what most expected.

“The beach was full of tar for like, couple months, but in the water, not as bad as I thought,” said Jackson Smith, who has been surfing in the area for eight years. “I think the tide pushed it down south more, quicker than I thought it would.”

Dr. Elizabeth Wood, a wildlife veterinarian at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, said luckily, they didn’t actually see the enormous influx of oiled wildlife that we were expecting to see.

“However, we do worry that a lot of that wildlife that was affected was offshore and perhaps rather than not being affected, just wasn’t presenting to our coastlines,” Wood said.

Nearly one year after 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean, the area was back open Wednesday for recreation and those responsible are paying the price.

Amplify Energy Corp, Beta Operating Co., and the San Pedro Pipeline are expected to pay nearly $13 million in total as part of an agreement with prosecutors. A class action lawsuit is pending.

“We hope some changes happen so that this is less likely to happen in the future and that we hopefully start the process of decommissioning these oil platforms off our coastline as well,” Wood said.

She said one good thing to come out of the oil spill was the increased surveillance off our coastline, which unfortunately revealed a high amount of human caused threats endangering our marine wildlife.

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