Investigators investigate cause of large oil spill off the coast of California, United States

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) – Federal and state investigators on Monday (October 4) investigated the cause of the leak of some 126,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

Huntington Beach, about 65 km south of Los Angeles, was the hardest hit with some 34 square kilometers of ocean and portions of its coastline “covered in oil,” Mayor Kim Carr said.

The oil appeared to come from a production platform operated by Beta Offshore, a California affiliate of Houston-based offshore crude oil producer Amplify Energy Corporation.

Amplify Monday did not immediately return a call for information.

Federal officials have stepped up their scrutiny of aging and inactive offshore energy pipelines.

Energy companies have built 64,000 km of oil and gas pipelines in federal offshore waters since the 1940s.

Regulators have failed to consider the risks associated with unused pipelines, platforms and other infrastructure on the seabed, the U.S. government’s monitoring office said this year.

“As pipelines age, they are more susceptible to damage from corrosion, mudslides and seabed erosion,” GAO said.

Mr Martyn Willsher, an Amplify executive, said on Sunday that a pipeline carrying oil from the platform had been shut down and the remaining oil had been sucked out. Divers were trying to determine where and why the spill occurred, he said.

Authorities have deployed 625m of protective dams, which help contain and slow the flow of oil, and about 14,320 liters were recovered on Sunday, the US Coast Guard said.

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