A beach in Southern California that was closed for more than a week due to a leakage of crude oil from an underground pipeline was reopened Monday. This was far quicker than most people expected.
Officials have reopened Huntington Beach’s state and city beaches after confirming that water quality tests did not reveal any oil-related toxins in the water. Surfers were seen bobbering in the waves, and people strolled along the shoreline with their dogs, jumping in and out of the water.
Andrew Boyack, 54, is a commercial photographer who was keen to return to surfing the waves that he rides three to four times per week.
He said it while taking a shower at the outdoor beach. “There are lots of guys out so it’s probably alright,” he added.
It’s just exercise. He said that it’s almost like a jogger. “We surf every morning.”
Huntington Beach and the surrounding coastal communities were devastated by last week’s oil spillage that sent approximately 25,000 gallons (95,000 Liters) and not more than 132,000 (500,000 Liters) of oil into ocean.
The leak was about 5 miles (8 km) from the coast in a pipeline owned Houston-based Amplify Energy, which transports crude oil from offshore oil platforms to shore.
On Oct. 2, the spillage was confirmed. This came a day after local residents reported a strong petroleum smell. Officials are investigating the cause and believe that the pipeline was probably damaged by an anchor from a ship several months to one year before it burst. The exact moment when oil began to leak from the 13-inch (33 centimeter) crack in pipeline remains a mystery.
Sunday was the last day that oil had been detected and the sand looked almost as clear as the Huntington Beach Pier, where workers dug through the sand to find tar.
Local officials are concerned about the impact on wildlife, wetlands and the economy of this spillage. Surf City USA was a community that had no ocean access. This meant that the beaches were closed to the public and the shops that cater for them suffered.
Officials from the city of 200,000 have stated that water testing will continue for at most two weeks.
Residents were permitted to walk on Huntington Beach’s sand before Monday but were not allowed to cross the water or touch the shoreline. Also, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach were closed for surfing and swimming.
The closure caused a drop in sales at Huntington Beach shops that sell everything, from bikinis to stars-and-stripes boards and fishing gear to sand toys. Marian Johnson, owner of “Let’s Go Fishing” at the pier, stated that sales fell by half due to the closure.
Mike Ali, the owner of Zack’s nearby shop, stated that he had to close three of his four locations as well as reduce worker hours. Although people were still renting bikes and purchasing food from his only store, he stated that business declined by 90% without the provision of surf lessons, event catering, and bonfires.
Ali stated that it could take up to two years for tourism to return to the city. He also said that the 1990 oil spillage diverted potential tourists to the beaches to the south and north of the city.
Rich Toro (70) still rode his 25-mile (40 km) bike down to Huntington Beach on Sunday.
He said that he would not race to get back in the water due to the spillage and concerns about wildlife. Officials have reported that there have been 38 deaths of birds and nine fish since the incident, and that 27 oiled birds were recovered and are currently being treated.