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Surf’s up at Huntington Beach, 10 days after a major oil spill spoiled the waters off California’s southern coast. The popular surf spot reopened Monday after city officials and California State Parks announced in a statement that “water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in our ocean water.”
As my colleague Piper McDaniel reported last week, the ocean floor accident has exposed a complicated web of responsibility:
An estimated 144,000 gallons of oil gushed into the sea over the weekend before Amplify Energy Corp., owner of the ruptured pipeline, shut it down….As agencies triage the mess, eyes have also turned to the Coast Guard, questioning its role in a slow response that may have made things worse.
Whomever shares the immediate blame, it was systemic under-regulation that set the scene for the spill. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration responds to more than 150 oil and chemical spills in US waters each year. But earlier this year, a report by the Government Accountability Office warned that the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, responsible for overseeing construction and monitoring of offshore oil drilling, was failing to properly monitor and inspect active pipelines.
Numerous Orange County beaches and piers were closed to the public following the October 2 spill, which has also threatened local wildlife and wetland areas. As Piper wrote, the spill was “upending delicate ecosystems home to marine life and rare species of birds.” Working through the mess will likely be a long process. Despite Huntington Beach reopening this week, other beaches in the area remain shut down, and clean-up operations continue—including at Huntington Beach.
Here we’ve gathered some images of the still-in-flux scene.