Efforts to identify and correct a crude oil leak off Orange County’s coast should be made by an independent group rather than by Amplify Energy’s own team, said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer during a Monday press conference.

OC Oil Spill

Latest Figures
  • Authorities now estimate a spill size range between 25,000 gallons to a maximum of 131,000 gallons
  • 5,544 gallons of oily water retrieved
  • Approximately 172,500 pounds of oily debris has been recovered from shorelines
  • 14,060 feet of boom laid to try to curb oil spread
  • More than 900 people on the ground in cleanup effort
Contacts
  • General questions: 714-374-1702
  • Do not approach affected wildlife, call in a report: 877-823-6926
  • Assist with animals: 714-374-5587
  • Help with cleanups: 714-374-1702
  • File a claim: 866-985-8366

“They should not be able to go anywhere near that pipeline,” Spitzer said of Amplify’s role. “This presentation was just one side of the discussion.”

Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher on Monday said that the company has been using remotely operated vehicles underwater to try to find the source of the leak. Now that the company has found a possible source, they plan to send down divers to confirm before starting repairs.

Amplify Energy is part of the Unified Command, which they are legally required to do. Spokespeople for the US Coast Guard also made it clear at today’s press conference that they are overseeing response to the spill.

Investigators from local, state and federal agencies are all actively reviewing the leak, a process that is kept separate from the response team according to Eric Laughlin, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Spitzer’s office is studying any possible charges against Amplified Energy, saying “nothing is off the table yet.” Spitzer’s jurisdiction ends three miles out from the coast, so the final location of the pipeline will shape what cases his office is able to prosecute.

No matter where the leak is, Spitzer said he will be pursuing charges related to the damage to wildlife along the coast and the impacts at the shoreline.

Supervisor Katrina Foley also called on officials to investigate what time the leak started at, pointing to complaints from beach residents about a strange smell on Friday night. 

It remains unclear if or when residents will receive an update to the criminal investigations on the leak, with Laughlin saying it was unlikely a public update would be provided until the investigation was concluded, which is standard protocol.

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OC Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose district holds Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, confirmed the information on the Elly platform being the source of the leak at almost 1 a.m. Sunday on Twitter. Officials from the company were present during a Sunday press conference.

Saturday night, Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill posted on Instagram that the spill came from the oil platform Elly, which sits about seven miles offshore from Huntington Beach.

O’Neill said it looked like the spill came from a mechanical issue that may have started on Friday night, but cities were not informed until midday Saturday. 

The rig is run by the Beta Operating Company, a division of Houston based Amplify Energy Corporation. Officials from the company did not respond to Voice of OC requests for comment Saturday night. 

Platform Elly serves as a processing platform for two other oil rigs, Platforms Ellen and Eureka, which are connected to Elly via a set of walkways according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Elly and Ellen were installed in 1980, and Eureka was added in 1984. 

During the Sunday press conference officials said that the oil pipeline should be inspected every other year. A date of the last inspection was not made available. 

The US Coast Guard is the lead agency responding to the disaster, alongside the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, multiple public safety divisions of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach and other agencies.

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