O.C. oil spill: Huntington Beach reopens beaches

Local news

City and state beaches in Huntington Beach reopened at 6 a.m. Monday morning, the city and California State Parks announced in a statement.

“The joint decision to reopen comes after coastal ocean and wetlands water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water,” the statement read.

The ocean and shoreline between the Santa Ana River Jetty and Sunset Beach had been closed since last Sunday, when the efforts to limit the impact of the oil spill began.

The cleanup efforts are being led by the U.S. Coast Guard, but “as an additional safety measure,” Huntington Beach hired an independent contractor to test ocean and wetlands water, the statement said.

Forty different sites were tested, and at 39 locations, the contractor found no polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and total petroleum hydrocarbons, which might indicate the presence of oil.

Water from one location, just north of Warner Avenue, contained detectable amounts of the substances, but the level was determined to be non-toxic, officials said.

Testing will continue twice per week for at least the next two weeks, and the water testing reports for this and all future tests will be available on the city’s oil spill webpage.

“The health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance. We understand the significance our beaches have on tourism, our economy, and our overall livelihood here in Huntington Beach,” said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. “It is important that our decision to reopen our shoreline and water be based on data and that we continue to monitor the water quality going forward.”

While the beaches are reopening, officials continue to urge caution from visitors.

“Beachgoers are advised to avoid areas where an oil smell is present. Further, we expect to see oiled materials and tar balls wash up on the beach, and individuals are advised not to handle or ingest any oil materials,” the statement read.

Sightings of oil or tar balls can be reported to tarballreports@wildlife.ca.gov.

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