A leak from the oil platform known as Elly has washed crude along Newport, Laguna and Huntington beaches. Approximately 126,000 gallons of oil poured into the Catalina Channel, similar to the size of the 2015 Refugio State Beach oil spill.
Elly, installed in 1980, is far from the oldest platform off California’s coast, and investigators are working to pinpoint the exact location of the leak.
Coast Guard investigators believe a misplaced anchor may be the culprit, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Elly is one of 23 platforms in federal waters. Of those, 19 are off the coast of Santa Barbara County, and two are being decommissioned.
There are 19 rigs in California waters.
In January, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, introduced the California Clean Coast Act, which would ban offshore drilling off the coast of California.
Although the act has not gained significant traction in the House, the fiscal year 2022 House-passed appropriations bill includes protections from oil exploration off California’s coast.
“The Central Coast is no stranger to the danger of oil spills. I will never forget walking along the beach after the Refugio Oil Spill in 2015 and seeing our coastline slick with oil,” Rep. Carbajal told the News-Press. “The latest spill in Orange County should serve as yet another wake up call, reminding us of the risk oil drilling poses to our environment, health and economy.”
Santa Barbara County’s experience with spills, including the state’s largest spill in 1969, inspired his legislation.
“In Congress, I have worked hard to transform the Central Coast into a renewable energy hub. We can lead the way toward a fossil-free future and propel our economy forward by harnessing the potential of solar and wind energy, which does not pose the same risks to our environment that oil drilling does. I will keep fighting to protect our ocean from harmful oil drilling and cement our leadership in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
In 2019, the Trump administration proposed to expand offshore oil and gas exploration — including off the coast of California.
Cleanup efforts are under way in Orange County, and residents are advised to stay off the beaches.
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is in contact with the wildlife assistance groups in Huntington Beach and is standing by to help.