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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Oil spill underscores urgency to close wells, say environmentalists

Environmentalists as well as a local congressman mourned the environmental damage caused by Saturday’s offshore oil spill affecting Huntington Beach, and said the incident prompted an urgency to expedite the closure of 27 platforms in the waters off the California coast. underlined.

“This is undoubtedly going to have an impact on marine life, beaches and the ability to use beaches,” said Chad Nelson, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “I think they will do everything they can to minimize the impacts.

“But the reality is that oil infrastructure fails, no matter how careful we try. If we want to see these effects go away, the real answer here is to move away from fossil fuels. It’s an unfortunate reality when we’re carrying oil around. “

According to Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr, oil from a platform offshore of Long Beach reached Orange County beaches, the Talbert marshlands and the Santa Ana River. The total leak on Sunday was estimated at 126,000 gallons, with Nelson comparing the disaster to a 143,000-gallon Refugio pipeline leak in Santa Barbara County in 2015.

That leak caused tens of millions of dollars in damage and cleanup costs, and wrapped hundreds of animals in oil, many of which died. It also forced offshore areas to close fishing limits.

“This would be devastating not only to our marine wildlife and ecosystem, but to the livelihoods of our coastal communities that are built around fishing, tourism and recreation,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. “As long as these platforms and pipelines remain in place, our coastal communities will be at risk from potential disasters like the one we are seeing now.”

The Refugio pipeline was found to be rusted. Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program, said Southern California’s offshore operations are also suffering from aging.

“I’ve watched the aging oil platforms off Huntington Beach up close, and I know the time has come to defuse these time bombs,” she said.

Following a 2018 criminal trial in which Plains All American Pipeline was found to be negligent in the Refugio spill, the company “emphasised its operation on Line 901 either met or exceeded legal and industry standards and that the ruling reflect a ‘no known wrongdoing’ by the company or its employees,” according to the Santa Barbara Independent.

Sakashita said the solution is to shut down all offshore platforms.

“Even after fines and criminal charges, the oil industry is still spreading and leaking in California’s coastal waters because these companies are not able to operate safely,” she said. “The only solution is to shut down this dirty business.”

There are 27 platforms off the California coast, leading from Orange County to Santa Barbara. 12 of them are not in production and there are no plans to return them to service, said John B. Smith, a decommissioning consultant for TSB Offshore, at the 2020 conference on the future of wells.

He said oil companies have no interest in opening new wells off the West Coast.

Since the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara – the largest rig in the United States at the time – it has been difficult to site new offshore rigs in the state. No leases have been signed for new wells in state waters since the spill and the newest well in federal waters went online in 1989.

The Trump administration proposed opening up all of the country’s coasts in federal waters to new oil leases, but then-govt. Jerry Brown later signed a 2018 law banning new pipelines and other infrastructure to service rigs in federal waters. This has further increased resistance to drilling as a push to reduce oil operations in line with the state’s goal of a carbon-free energy by 2045.

California’s state director of the environment, Laura Deehan, said Saturday’s leak should lead to clean energy.

“This ecological disaster underscores the urgent need for Government (Gavin) Newsom to accelerate our transition from fossil fuels to a 100 percent renewable energy-powered economy,” she said.

World Nation News Desk
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