The U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities are taking to the sky Thursday to determine the location and size of a possible new oil sheen that was spotted off the Bolsa Chica State Beach coast.
Huntington Beach police began receiving reports of a sheen around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Carey said.
Calls were also being made from residents about an oil odor in the area, Carey said.
A helicopter was sent to look for the sheen but was unsuccessful due to the weather conditions and dark skies. Marine safety boats were able to find a few sheens in the water, but authorities will need further information to determine the exact size and nature of the sheens, Carey said.
The city began working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard and Orange County Public Works officials in deploying booms and creating berms to protect both the Huntington Beach wetlands and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
“We’re all a little nervous any time we hear about oil spill after the first one that happened on Oct. 2,” Carey said.
In the October incident, an estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean after a pipeline ruptured off the coast of Orange County.
In connection with that spill, three companies, Amplify Energy Corp. and its companies that operate several oil rigs and a pipeline off Long Beach, face federal charges for illegally discharging oil, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Aerial video from Sky5 over the water Thursday morning showed what appeared to be an oil sheen coming close to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and near the Huntington Beach Pier.
Officials are hoping the situation is similar to a relatively minor incident that occurred in November when a sheen was spotted off the Huntington Beach coast and dissipated on its own.
“Any leak of any kind is concerning, of course, but we don’t have any evidence that it’s on the beaches or that it’s heading towards the shore or anything. It’s just a sheen on the water, not even any oil,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.
Until more information can be gathered, residents were urged to be patient and not become overly alarmed.
“We do know that with the recent storms and rain, that can kind of agitate things out in the ocean and maybe that’s what brought this about … At this time, we really don’t have enough information to give any guidance,” Carey said.