Photo by Richard Martinez.

OC Oil Spill Leaves Sludge at Sea

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A massive oil spill off the coast of Orange County has left a swath of sludge on some of California’s most picturesque beaches.

Between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach — some of the most frequented and iconic beaches in California — a slimy film is washing ashore, leaving behind iridescent rings of crude oil and debris. And fingers are pointed currently at a ship’s anchor for dinging a 17-mile-long pipeline that unleashed 127,000 gallons of sludge into the ocean Friday.

On Monday night, the effects of the spill were still noticeable along the coastline, with some local businesses closing up shop early as the normally heavy tourist activity slowed. It was a far cry from what many hoped would be a fun-filled weekend with the Pacific Airshow at Huntington Beach, which had to turn away its 1.5 million visitors due to the spill.

Of course, not only humans but wildlife has been affected as well, with nearby marshlands being a major cause for concern.

“We are seeing impacted wildlife, oiled wildlife,” said Newport Beach Marine Safety chief Mike Halphide.

This is the largest oil spill in the area in over three decades, and Beta Offshore, the company responsible for maintenance of the pipeline, has claimed they have continued to monitor it with routine checks every other year, even through the pandemic. However, the company has had a history of violating safety and environmental regulations in the past — receiving 125 citations since 1980, to be exact — and has been fined for only two of these incidents for a total of $85,000 AP has reported.

Los Angeleno