An oil sheen spotted off Huntington Beach this weekend served as a potent reminder of how long it will take Southern California to untangle the legal, regulatory and environmental fallout of an October pipeline spill that released an estimated 25,000 gallons of crude into the ocean.
A sheen 70 feet by 30 feet was spotted Saturday morning and gone by nightfall, authorities said. The U.S. Coast Guard said it was probably a residual leak from the ruptured 17.3-mile pipeline, which has been shut down since Oct. 2.
Divers preparing for a routine inspection of the damaged pipeline spotted the sheen about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said. Underwater, they saw oil droplets near the damaged section, which since the spill has been encased in a material called Syntho-Glass. Divers removed the wrap and installed a new one.
If Amplify Energy, the Texas-based company that operated the pipeline, was responsible for the weekend’s release of the oil, there may be repercussions, said Ted Borrego, an oil and gas lawyer with 50 years of experience in the industry and adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
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