Orange County Supervisors declared the massive oil spill along the coast an emergency situation Tuesday — marking the first time a majority has publicly discussed the disaster. 

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

But there’s been mounting questions about which agency knew about the spill first and why it took until Saturday evening to officially confirm the situation. 

“We had Newport residents, they were complaining about an odor,” Supervisor Katrina Foley said. “Also we had reports coming out that there was an oil slick out there Friday night and those reports came into our sheriff’s department, harbor patrol and the Coast Guard.” 

Michelle Anderson, director of the OC Sheriff’s Department Emergency Management Division, said there will be a report on the issue. 

“There will be an after action report that takes a look at that and develops out a full timeline on who was notified,” Anderson told Foley. 

Meanwhile, reports to the state Office of Emergency Service began trickling in late Friday night.

According to a Friday night report to the office, a boat noticed a large oil sheen — 2 nautical miles by 100 meters. 

Anderson said the Office of Emergency Services didn’t tell her until the next day. 

“I received it both via email and as well as a phone call from CalOES around noon time,” she said. 

Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do said he expects lawsuits over the oil spill.

“We know that there will be litigation coming out and there will certainly be finger pointing,” Do said.

Before Tuesday’s unanimous disaster declaration vote, only Foley had publicly talked about the issue through social media and numerous news conferences since Saturday — when the oil spill was officially made public. 

“This is obviously a devastating criss hitting our shores. Impacting our wildlife, our wetlands, our economy from Huntington Beach all the way to Dana Point, which includes Supervisor [Lisa] Bartlett’s district,” Foley said. 

Bartlett said the spill needs to get cleaned up as soon as possible.

“This is something that’s devastating to our shoreline, the ocean, the mammals, the local economy and so on,” she said.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio

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