California: Major oil spill washes ashore contaminating beaches and wetlands, killing marine wildlife

An oil spill off the coast of California, United States has started killing fish, contaminating wetlands and destroying beaches.

About 3,000 barrels of oil have spread over an area covering 33sq km off the Orange County coast.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said portions of the coastline were covered in oil.

An investigation into the pipeline breach that caused it is under way.

The slick is about five miles off the coasts of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. It was discovered on Saturday morning.

It’s thought to be one of the largest oil spills in the state’s recent history, according to Associated Press.

Authorities are now attempting to contain the oil by using protective booms. Divers are also working at the scene to determine how the leak occurred.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said dead animals hasve washed along the shore and Talbert Marsh, an ecological reserve had also suffered “significant damage”.

The US Coast Guard said it had rescued one duck that was covered in oil and is investigating other similar reports.

Amplify Energy Corp, which owns three off-shore platforms, said it stopped operations and shut its pipeline on Saturday.

CEO Martyn Willsher said the pipeline had been suctioned to ensure that no more oil would spill.

The area, 40 miles south of Los Angeles, is extremely popular with surfers. Beaches have been closed and the last day of the Pacific Airshow was cancelled.

Residents have been told not to approach animals affected by the spill and to instead call authorities.

Michelle Steel, a Republican representative for part of the affected area, has asked President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster, which would allow for funds to help with clean-up operations.