Updated Sunday, Oct. 3 at 9 pm: As of Sunday evening Newport Harbor remains open. Boaters are being asked to avoid traversing the oil spill as it may cling to vessels and could bring oil into the harbor.
Oil Spill Response Vessels will be skimming oil off the Newport Beach coast throughout the night. This includes one stationed near the Harbor entrance.
The City of Newport Beach is actively monitoring and responding to the oil spill as part of the Unified Incident Command led by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The City of Newport Beach is advising residents and visitors to avoid contact with ocean water and oiled areas of the beach, following a large oil spill that was identified Saturday off the coast of Newport and Huntington Beach. Oil has been observed on shore in Newport Beach between 52nd street and the Santa Ana River.
City beaches will remain open to the public with the water advisory in place. Newport Harbor remains open for boating and general recreational use. Huntington Beach has cancelled Day 3 of the Pacific Airshow in response to the spill.
“Unfortunately, the size and potential impact of this oil spill make it necessary for people to stay out of the water and avoid contact with the oil,” said Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery. “The City’s top priority is to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors during the cleanup effort.”
Newport Beach is part of the multi-agency unified command response being led by the U.S. Coast Guard, the lead agency coordinating the cleanup response and incident investigation.
Members of the public are also asked to avoid assisting with cleanup in the oiled areas. Trained spill response contractors are being dispatched to clean up the oil. Public volunteers are not needed and could hinder response efforts.
Members of the pubic are also advised to avoid contact with oiled wildlife. If anyone encounters oiled wildlife, please call 1-877-823-6926.
According to the Coast Guard, Newport Beach has a soft closure and requests that the public stay out of the water from Tower 44 north to the Santa Ana River.
The City is continuing to monitor this evolving incident and will release additional information as it becomes available.
The Surfrider Foundation released a statement on its Facebook page reporting that an estimated 126,000 gallons of oil spilled when a pipeline broke approximately four miles off the coast near an offshore drilling platform. The spill resulted in a 13-mile wide oil slick off the coast of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
“The highly toxic oil spill is causing devastating impacts to wildlife, the marine environment, and the coastline — which will also trigger significant economic and recreational impacts,” reads the statement. “At this time, the public should not go near the spill or affected wildlife as oil contains dangerous chemicals. Surfrider will continue to monitor the cleanup efforts and is pushing to ensure dangerous dispersants will not be used that can compound the problem.
Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose district includes Newport Beach, issued the following statement regarding the oil spill: “We are deeply concerned by this weekend’s major oil spill along our beautiful Orange County coastline. The ramifications will extend further than the visible oil and odor that our residents are dealing with at the moment. The impact to the environment is irreversible. We must identify the cause of the spill, and for the greater good of our cities, beaches, and coastal ecological habitat we need to understand how to prevent these incidences moving forward. Our beaches are an integral part of our culture and economy, popular tourist destinations, and a California staple. Our office is fully committed to supporting the coastal cities and will continue working to ensure our residents remain updated as developments continue to progress.”
As of Sunday, a total of 3,150 gallons of oily water mixture have been recovered, nine boats were dispatched for oil spill recovery operations, three shoreline assessment teams dispatched and 3,700 feet of boom deployed.
Sunday afternoon, the Orange County Health Care Agency issued a health advisory for residents exposed to oil contaminants, and Orange County Emergency Operations was activated today.
Newport Beach has closed the ocean to swimming and surfing at Tower 44 and Crystal Cove, however the beach remains open at this time. Residents are advised to avoid exercising, swimming, surfing, fishing or walking their dogs near the impacted beaches and wetlands for the time being.