580,000 liters leaked: Ship anchors probably to blame for the oil spill

A ship anchor may be responsible for the oil spill off Southern California …

According to information from the local traffic authorities, the pipeline, from which hundreds of thousands of liters of crude oil leaked into the sea, was hit by an anchor and torn apart.

The line broke about eight kilometers off the coast of Los Angeles at a depth of about 30 meters, the investigators said. Coast Guard captain Rebecca Ore said divers had found that about 1,200 feet of the pipeline had shifted 32 meters laterally. She did not say what the exact cause of the shift could be. In addition, the pipeline has a 33 centimeter long crack. The operator of the pipeline said that the line had been drawn in a semicircle like a bowstring.

A government order now prohibits the affected company from restarting the pipeline until extensive inspections and tests have been carried out to ensure that the pipeline is intact.

An official confirmation that a ship anchor is actually responsible for this is still pending. The investigations are ongoing.

Initial reports of the oil spill were not investigated by the Coast Guard for almost 12 hours because, according to the AP news agency, there was allegedly a lack of evidence and darkness and a lack of technology hampered the investigation.

It would also take more than 12 hours for an oil pipeline company to report a spill of nearly 600,000 liters of heavy crude oil.

The first two calls about the oil spill were received by the National Response Center, which is manned by the Coast Guard and informs other authorities about disasters so that they can react quickly. The first call came from an anchored ship that saw a shimmer on the water. The second came six hours later from a federal agency that recognized a possible oil spill on satellite images.

Helpers comb the sand at Huntington Beach for oil residue. The dream beach could remain closed for weeksPhoto: PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP

Up to 572,807 liters of heavy fuel oil reached the ocean off Huntington Beach through the oil spill and was washed up on the beaches and in a nature reserve. The beaches could remain closed for weeks or longer, which would mean a severe blow to the local economy. Inshore fishing in the area is closed to commercial and recreational fishing.

The US federal and state authorities require early reporting of an oil spill. Failure to comply with this rule could lead to criminal prosecution.

And the concern that something like this could happen again is growing in view of the current situation on the coasts of California. Cargo ships calling at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach pass through the area regularly. The ports have been congested in recent months, and several dozen of the huge ships have regularly been anchored while waiting to enter and unload.


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