Clusters upon clusters of oil — small specks and large globs — rolled in with the tides by the Newport Beach pier Wednesday afternoon. 

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
  • 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

Cleaning crews had already swept through the area twice since spill response efforts began on Saturday, said a Dept. of Fish and Wildlife worker, hopping out of his truck to warn a reporter from getting too close to the oil. 

Meanwhile, some spill cleanup workers who spoke to Voice of OC on Wednesday at various beaches say they’re being spread too thin due to a lack of response personnel.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 328 paid oil spill cleanup workers were on the beach, with goals to increase responders in the near future to 1,500 according to Gov. Gavin Newsom during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Right by the Newport pier, unaccompanied bags of contaminated sand and kelp sat piled next to shovels stuck into the ground, standing upright.

Far off toward the pier’s adjacent strip of bars and restaurants, a cluster of spill response workers in green vests gathered and regrouped. Along the coastline, workers told Voice of OC on Wednesday they had been out cleaning as early as 6 a.m. over the last few days.

Costa Mesa resident Matt Marshall, who says he’s a frequent surfer off the shoreline near the Newport pier, said cleaning crews weren’t doing enough — namely because there weren’t enough of them. 

“They need to be hitting it where the regular tide is,” said Marshall, around 1 p.m.

“As the tide comes back up, it’s gonna pick all this up,” Marshall said, pointing at the oil which sat either in damp sand close to the waves or in puddles of water under the pier.

In the minutes before State Sen. Dave Min convened a news conference in Huntington Beach earlier in the day, around 10 a.m., one spill response worker looking out at the Talbert Marsh told a reporter they were being “spread thin.”

Near Huntington’s dog beach later in the day, around noon, privately-contracted cleanup workers hanging around their pickup trucks said they “need as much help as we can get.”

So much so, officials have put out a call for any Orange County or nearby resident who would like to volunteer their time to help clean, namely through a program which requires volunteers to take a four-hour training course before they can take bags and shovels out.

[Read: OC Oil Spill Officials Readying to Train Cleanup Volunteers While Trying to Ramp Up Response Efforts]

Pollutants filled the beach around Newport Pier from the high tide mark, all the way down to where the smaller waves were meeting land close to 1 p.m.

Some pollutants, black in color, seemingly solid in substance, were so small that they formed lines around the beach that swirled and zagged — almost as if drawn with pencil. 

“It’s hiding in a lot of this kelp,” said Marshall, the surfer, pointing to piles of green seaweed. Flocks of gulls circled overhead. Some rested on the sand. Others picked at the beached vegetation.

“Sunday morning, big slicks — all the way out here,” Marshall said, waving his hand around the waters offshore. “It looked better on Monday, but that’s because a lot of the oil was out to sea.”

“Now it’s starting to come in, especially with the wind, it’s going to blow it all in here,” Marshall said. “It’s coming this way.”

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