California Oil Spill: Anchor hooking oil pipeline may have caused spill, agency says

An anchor that was hooking an oil pipeline may have caused the Southern California spill that spewed more than 100,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in a notice to operation owner Amplify Energy.

“The pipeline has essentially been pulled like a bow string. 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 CEO Martyn Willsher said at a press conference Tuesday.

There is no confirmation of a vessel above the site of the spill, but a response team is working with other agencies to determine whether a ship was in the area, said Capt. Rebecca Ore, the commanding officer at US Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach.

Earlier on Tuesday, authorities said a 4,000-foot section of the pipeline was displaced laterally about 105 feet and had a 13-inch split that was likely the source of the spill.

The discovery explains the likely source of a spill, widely reported Saturday, of as much as 144,000 gallons of crude oil about five miles off the coast of Huntington Beach. The spill has shut down prized beaches, damaged the environment and presented possible health hazards for local residents.

About 4,800 gallons of oil has been recovered from the water and about 11,400 feet of boom has been deployed.

Dead birds and fish have already washed ashore.