Stormy weather could affect California oil spill cleanup efforts

·4 min read

An oil spill about five miles off the coast of Huntington Beach, California, left 3,000 barrels' worth of oil pouring into the Pacific Ocean -- and incoming inclement weather could serve to make matters even worse.

The mayor of Huntington Beach, Kim Carr, said the oil spill is "one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades."

The spill, which came from a 17-mile pipeline owned by Houston-based company Amplify Energy, was first identified on Saturday and resulted in about 126,000 gallons of post-production crude oil flooding into the ocean, CNN reported.

Officials said that the leaking appeared to have stopped in a press conference on Sunday, and Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said the company does not expect any more oil to be released after suctioning the pipeline at both ends.

Oil is shown washed up in Huntington Beach, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. One of the largest oil spills in recent Southern California history fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. At least 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of oil spilled into the waters off Orange County, according to a statement from the city of Huntington Beach. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Ever since the oil spill started, oil, sea life such as fish and dead birds have been washing onshore on beaches across Southern California.

In a press release released late on Sunday night, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that 3,150 gallons of oil have been recovered from the ocean so far through clean-up efforts. A major disaster declaration was requested from President Joe Biden for the oil spill.

Oil has also began seeping into the Talbert Marsh, a 25-acre wetland in Huntington Beach, The Los Angeles Times reported.

A seagull flies over oil washed up by the coast in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Sunday., Oct. 3, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley warned residents to avoid swimming, surfing or exercising on the beach on Sunday. In addition, she warned against fishing, as it is unsafe to do so.

Crews and volunteers across Southern California have already gotten to work to clean up the oil. Scott White was among volunteers that got started on cleaning up the beaches.

"I think that we need to come out and get this oil out of here because it harms the environment very very badly," White told The Associated Press while he removed oil-filled sand from the beach.

He walked along the beach with a bucket, filling it with oil-contaminated sand. White told the AP that he plans to take as much sand as he can carry to a disposal center.

"I'm just here to pick up the oil," he said. "It's just bad, you know. It really is bad."

In addition to the volunteers, contractors in boats deployed skimmers and booms, which work as barriers, into the ocean in hopes of preventing any more oil from seeping into the Talbert Marsh wetlands. The contractors also used plastic bags on Sunday to collect the oil sitting on top of the water.

As cleanup efforts continue, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said an incoming storm could stand in the way.

"This is mainly an upper-level storm that will be pushing onshore and likely bring just spotty showers over the LA Basin area," he said. "However, it will likely bring some higher swells into the area starting Monday and continuing into Tuesday."

Crews remove oil as they deploy skimmers and floating barriers to try to stop further incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. One of the largest oil spills in recent Southern California history fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The storm is forecast to move onshore either late Monday night or early Tuesday morning and move eastward throughout the day on Tuesday. By Wednesday, weather conditions in the area are expected to improve, but the stormy weather that is forecast to kick off the week could interfere with cleanup efforts in Huntington Beach.

"It's possible the increased swells could move the oil spill more and increase the size of it and affect any clean up," Reppert said.

By the end of the week and next weekend, stormy weather conditions could return to the area.

Donations to help the wildlife affected by the oil spill can be made to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.

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