Environmental officials discover source of oil sheen spotted off Orange County coast this week

Environmental officials have determined that a Southern California offshore energy and production company’s pipeline was the source of an oil sheen that was spotted off the coast of Huntington Beach this week.

Operations for Oxnard-based DCOR, LLC’s pipeline were halted this week after it was discovered that the source of the oil discharge was within its vicinity, according to Unified Command, which consists of the Coast Guard, the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Orange County officials.

“All platform and pipeline operations ceased, and the line is being monitored for additional oiling,” according to a statement released Friday. “A response boat is patrolling the pipeline to detect any indications of additional discharge of oil.”

Last week, authorities responded to an oil sheen in roughly the same area, but about two miles off the coast. Investigators said that sheen did not appear to be the result of a pipeline leak.

Officials confirmed that the recent sheens are also not related to the major pipeline leak was deemed responsible for a large release of oil that occurred off the Orange County coast in early October, prompting the closure of beaches and businesses along the shoreline. A Houston-based oil company and two subsidiaries were indicted this month on a misdemeanor charge for the incident.

Long Beach officials said Thursday that the oil sheen could impact the city’s shoreline and that the recent rainy weather will likely disrupt efforts to locate and identify the source and contain it. While yesterday’s overflight by UC found no observable oil or sheen on the water or shoreline, protective strategies remain in place.

Beach cleanup crews and oil spill response vessels are on-standby to remove oil. And while there have been no reports of affected wildlife, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network is in the area, ready to respond to any reports of animals affected by the sheen.

Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams conducted “reconnaissance” surveys from Belmont Shores to the Santa Ana River and confirmed no additional shoreline impacts. Beaches and the marina are not expected to close.

It is not immediately clear what impacts the October crude oil spill and recent sheens will have on Southern California’s environment and wildlife as researchers say that they are just starting to learn about some of the long-term effects from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

UPDATE: Long Beach officials say oil sheen could impact city shoreline

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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