Authorities in the state of California, United States are struggling to contain the biggest oil spill in the state’s history.
An estimated 5.7 lakh liters of crude oil was spilled into the Pacific Ocean on October 1, from a burst underground pipeline. The oil has now reached the United States’ west coast.
Officials investigating the spill have said that a ship’s anchor might have struck a 28 kilometers long pipeline, around 30 meters beneath the surface of the Orange County coast, leading to severe damage and causing hundreds of liters of oil to leak into the ocean.
The pipeline links an offshore drilling platform owned by the Texas-based fossil fuel company Amplify Energy Corporation.
Although authorities have managed to seal shut the leak from the pipeline, containing the already leaked oil from seeping into coastal areas has proved to be a challenge.
Katrina Foley, The Orange County Supervisor said in a statement released on Twitter: “The ramifications will extend further than the visible oil and odor that our residents are dealing with now. The impact on the environment is irreversible. We must identify the cause of today’s spill, and for the greater good of our cities, beaches, and coastal ecological habitat we need to understand how to prevent these incidences moving forward.
Experts believe the spill might have already doomed hundreds of thousands of marine life while posing a significant risk to local wildlife in California.
Laura Deehan, Director of Environment California, told CBS News: “We’ve already seen oiled fish and birds wash up onshore. We know that when this thick, goopy oil gets into places, it’s really hard to clean up.”
Officials reported that the oil had seeped into a local wetlands reserve along the coast. The reserve hosts thousands of migratory birds every year in the winter.
“A huge variety of seabirds, including egrets, gulls, and the great blue heron, go there to feed, so it’s of great and immediate concern that there are reports of oil in the wetlands there,” Deehan added.
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