Officials find no discharge of oil off Orange County coast

Officials said on Friday that they found no indication “of an unsecured discharge of oil,” off the Orange County coast after reports that two sheens of possible oil had been spotted this week.

Separate overflights conducted this morning “resulted in no observations of recoverable oil/sheen or evidence of oiling of local beaches,” according to a news release from Unified Command, which consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s, Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Orange County.

According to preliminary coast guard reports, an oil sheen was spotted at 4 p.m. Wednesday a half mile off the coast of Bolsa Chica. Responders on the water “observed a petroleum odor” and collected samples “that exhibited characteristics of a petroleum product,” the Coast Guard said Thursday on Twitter.

That Thursday morning, an overflight by Unified Command identified a second sheen two miles south of the Huntington Beach Pier. Recent aerial and on-water assessments have shown, however, that there is currently no observable sign of “on-water oil nor sheen,” according to the news release.

Furthermore, officials found that the oil samples collected Wednesday near Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County were inconsistent with “natural seep oil and with the oil associated with the discharge” in early October. The Houston-based oil company and two subsidiaries responsible for that spill were indicted this past Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge for a crude spill.

The booms deployed at Talbert Marsh, Bolsa Chica and the Santa Ana River to contain or stop the spread of oil will remain in place as a protective strategy until Saturday, Dec. 18, which is when the UC plans to remove them and release response resources.

“Beach cleanup crews and on-water recovery response vessels remain on standby ready to recover any product,” according to the news release. The Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife will continue to investigate to determine the source of the oil spill.

California to reopen fishing after offshore oil spill

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