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Southern California Oil Spill Keeping Beaches Empty

A rupture in an oil line off the coast of Southern California has changed the landscape, spilling more than 100,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean. On Monday, the usually crowded beaches of Huntington Beach, which welcome visitors with a sign saying “Surf City USA,” were deserted. Teams in white hazmat suits tried to protect the fragile wetland ecology near the mouth of the Santa Ana River, which is surrounded by shimmering oil ribbons and is a critical habitat for migratory birds.

According to Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, who has been posting updates on Twitter, dead birds and fish have already washed ashore. “The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” he said in a statement. According to local officials, the rupture occurred roughly five miles off Huntington Beach in Orange County, pouring the equivalent of 3,000 barrels — or 126,000 gallons — of post-production oil.

While the problem is being looked into, there are also concerns about the notification timetable. According to records examined by CNN, California authorities were told late Friday of indications of an oil slick at the pipeline spill site, more than 12 hours before Amplify Energy Corp., the line’s operator, reported it to state and federal officials. However, Amplify CEO Martyn Willsher told CNN on Monday that an issue was discovered by company staff Saturday morning, not Friday night.

While there is equipment to detect a leak without seeing oil spills, Willsher said there had been no notices of a potential leak in the line before Saturday. Amplify is a modest Houston-based firm with 222 workers as of the end of 2018 when it filed its most recent annual report. Sales of $153 million were reported in the most recent financial information, with year-to-date losses of $54.4 million through the end of June.

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