A large oil slick, miles wide, is barreling toward Orange County beaches, expected to hit land Saturday night after a spill three miles off the coast was reported midday.
The first reports of the spill came in just after noon, when the US Coast Guard posted on Twitter they were responding to an oil slick around 13 square miles large, three miles off the coast of Newport Beach.
So far, Huntington Beach has closed their beach from the pier south to Beach Blvd, and the Huntington Beach State Beach has been closed past that point as well according to Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr.
Carr also confirmed roughly 3,000 barrels worth of post production crude oil had spilled approximately 126,000 gallons into the ocean as of 10 p.m. Saturday night, and asked visitors to stay out of the city on Sunday.
“The health and safety of our residents are most important, there will be other opportunities to catch waves,” Carr said in a phone call with Voice of OC. “The oil has moved into the Talbert Channel, and we have laid over 1,000 feet of boom. It has breached one of the booms and gone onto the second.”
Booms are floating barriers designed to contain or divert oil spills and protect the environment.
Carr said the city was also working with conservation groups like the Bolsa Chica Conservancy to help mitigate any environmental damage along the coast.
Newport Beach Councilman Will O’Neill also posted online that the city’s lifeguards were working in tandem with the US Coast Guard, and that the leak had slowed but not stopped as of 9 p.m. Saturday, and encouraged visitors to stay out of the water.
He said the city had not yet dropped the boom to close off Newport Harbor, but that they were anticipating oil and tar to hit their beaches later tonight between Balboa Pier and Big Corona.
The city also posted that the response was being organized from the Long Beach Emergency Operations Center, with the US Coast Guard in charge, saying the spill is expected to hit beaches six hours after saying there was no indication the spill will come ashore.
Officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are asking residents to not attempt to help the animals affected by the oil spill, and to report any animal sightings to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 877-823-6926.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.