Some of Orange County’s popular beaches have been closed indefinitely to the public after a pipeline leak spewed an estimated 126,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Huntington Beach over the weekend.
The beach closures were implemented as clumps of oil began washing ashore, along with an untold number of dead birds, fish and other oil-slickened marine life amid the unfolding environmental disaster.
Here’s what beaches are closed — and what is still open — in three cities impacted by the spill:
Surf City USA’s popular beaches are essentially closed for the time being.
The Huntington Beach shoreline and ocean have been shut down between the Santa Ana River Jetty and Seapoint Street, and residents are not allowed in the water. However, people can still be on the sand up to the point of the lifeguard towers, and the bike paths are also open.
It’s unclear how long the closure will remain in place.
All city and county beaches in Laguna Beach have been closed since Sunday night. The public is urged to stay away from the shore and pay attention to all closure or warning signs posted at or near the coast.
The lone closure as of Monday morning is Newport Harbor, which has been temporarily shut down to vessel traffic.
While all of the beaches in the city remain open, beach and water advisories are in effect. As such, residents and visitors are urged to avoid going into the water and coming into contact with areas of the beach that are oiled.
Health advisory issued
On top of the beach closures, the oil spill prompted the Orange County Health Care Agency to put out a health advisory. It urges residents who were possibly exposed to potentially harmful oil contaminants seek immediate medical attention.
According to the agency, possible effects from excessive exposure to oil or dispersants include: skin, eye, nose and throat irritation; headache; dizziness; upset stomach; vomiting; and cough or shortness of breath.
Seniors, children and those with respiratory diseases like asthma are at an increased risk of experiencing adverse side effects from inhaling oil vapors. Anyone exhibiting such symptoms is asked to contact their doctor or dial 911.
Additionally, because of the potential harmful impacts, health officials are advising residents not to swim, surf, bike, walk, exercise or partake in any other recreational activities along the coast.