Coast Guard still probing cause of oil sheen off the coast of Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, CA - March 08: Tar balls and debris are visible on the high tide line as beach-goers visit Huntington Dog Beach on a warm day in Huntington Beach Friday, March 8, 2024. Roughly 2.5-mile-long oil slick was spotted today off the coast of Huntington Beach, but its source remained unclear. According to the Coast Guard, the slick is about 1.5 miles off the coast. ``Aerial surveys are planned to assess the size and potential impacts,'' Coast Guard officials said on social media. Photo taken in Huntington Beach Friday, March 8, 2024. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Coast Guard officials on Saturday continued to investigate the cause of an oil sheen off the coast of Huntington Beach in Orange County. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating what caused the oil sheen off Huntington Beach in Orange County this week, as clean-up crews on Saturday morning fanned out across the coast.

The sheen — it’s still unclear, officials say, if it was caused by a leak or a spill — was first reported Thursday evening not far from the site of a massive spill in 2021. By Friday night, officials had skimmed most of the oil, or about 85 gallons, from the ocean.

Coast Guard spokesperson Richard Uranga said that a flyover of the area early Saturday morning “showed a lighter sheen on the water.”

Uranga described the cleaning efforts along the coast Saturday morning as “very light,” but urged people walking along the shore with children or pets to keep an eye out for tar balls.

The city of Huntington Beach said beaches remain open, but cautioned against picking up tar patties to dispose of them. If you see tar, the city said, notify a lifeguard.

Uranga said that investigators are still looking into what caused the sheen.

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In a statement Friday, Amplify Energy Corp., which owns the pipeline that spewed at least 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean and along the coast in 2021, said they had “no indication that this sheen is related to our operations.”

“We will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Coast Guard and other relevant authorities,” the company added.

Officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s office of oil spill prevention and response said Friday that, so far, one oiled bird, a grebe, had been recovered.

The Coast Guard plans to conduct another fly-over inspection Saturday afternoon.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.