Huge oil spill kills fish, birds and destroys nature in California

Dark oil on water and underneath you see a fish swimming
A fish swims under oil slicks in the Talbert Channel, California, October 3, 2021, photo: Reuters/Gene Blevins

A large oil spill off the California coast killed fish, covered birds in oil and destroyed wetlands. An estimated 126,000 gallons (477,000 litres) covered part of the Pacific Ocean.

On Sunday, Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley said the oil had infiltrated the Talbert Marsh, a large ecological reserve, causing “significant damage.”

Dead animals started washing up on Huntington Beach on Sunday. “We’ve started to find dead birds and fish washing up on the shore,” Foley said.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon, officials warned people not to try to save any wildlife animals themselves, but to call local authorities.

“The Wildlife Care Center may be needing help as soiled wildlife comes in,” Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, who tries to restore and preserve the few remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach, said on Facebook.

Kim Carr, the mayor of Huntington Beach, called the spill an “environmental catastrophe” and a “potential ecological disaster”. “Our wetlands are being degraded, and portions of our coastline are now covered in oil,” she said.

The spill was caused by a broken pipeline that’s connected to an offshore oil platform called Elly. Carr said the oil platform was operated by oil producer Beta Offshore, which is part of oil company Amplify Energy Corporation.

Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said at a press conference that the pipeline had been shut off. He said divers were still trying to determine where and why the spill occurred.

Cottie Petrie-Norris, a California State Assembly member, told CNN the spill was a “call to action that we need to stop drilling off our precious California coast.”

Oceana, an ocean conservation group, also called for an end to offshore oil and gas drilling.

“This is just the latest tragedy of the oil industry. It’s well past time to prevent future oil spills by permanently protecting our coasts from offshore drilling,” Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s chief policy officer, said in a statement.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Sunday fishing is not allowed in the areas affected by the spill.

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