Update on the October 2021 Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Last Updated: 10/12/21

Like many of you, we were heartbroken when we heard news of the oil spill about 4 miles off the coast near Huntington Beach. While authorities are still trying to put together a timeline, more than 140,000 gallons of oil spilled from a broken pipeline near an offshore drilling platform in the Beta Field, owned and managed by Amplify Energy Corporation. The consequent 13-mile long oil slick is now impacting our beloved coast.

The latest updates on the spill are available at socalspillresponse.com. Crystal Cove State Park’s beaches and ocean are currently closed due to the oil spill, although the Historic District’s cottages and restaurants remain open.

“We are already seeing the devastating impacts of this spill on birds, marine species, and the habitats they rely on,” said Kate Wheeler, President & CEO of Crystal Cove Conservancy, the nonprofit partner to Crystal Cove State Park. “Situated as we are, on the unceded lands and waters of the Acjachemen and Tongva Tribal Nations, our team is also cognizant of the sacred cultural sites here and along our coast and the further damage this spill will cause.”

The pull to help is strong, but right now, it is important to let the coordinating agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the California Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the local cities and counties affected by the spill to engage with experts like the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center of Orange County and Pacific Marine Mammal Center to work to lessen the impact of and to directly address any wildlife and habitat impacts. To best support those efforts, we are asking members of the public not to try to clean oiled areas or oiled birds. Instead, please report oiled or injured wildlife to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network by calling 877-823-6826. Please consider making a donation to support one of the many of the organizations on the frontlines of the clean-up effort: Oiled Wildlife Care Network; Pacific Marine Mammal Center; Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center of Orange County. You can find ways to support this effort as a volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation.

“Here we are again, where we’ve been so often before,” added Wheeler. “We have choice on whether to continue on this cycle or make a change by opposing new offshore drilling and demanding better oversight on existing infrastructure. This is a moment to take notice and adapt practices that are harming the planet and its inhabitants, including us.”

The toll this spill will take on our coast, its habitats, the plants and animals that need them, our local coastal economy, and the communities that love our coast won’t be fully told for years and can never be fully remediated. In fact, the clean-up can use harmful disbursement agents that can make the ecological consequences even worse. According to Surfrider Foundation, “based on evidence from the Deep Water Horizon spill, these dispersants can exacerbate ecological damage to wildlife and the nearshore environment.”

We take our role of partner in caring for Crystal Cove State Park seriously, and we also believe that our work can’t end at the park’s boundary.  We are committed to partnering with our colleagues and our community to address the effects of this spill and to work to prevent them in the future.

Issues that affect the coast, affect the Cove.

Update, October 6th, 10AM:

Parts of the park are temporarily closed due to an oil spill impacting coastal Orange County from Saturday morning (October 2). Due to the toxicity created by the spill, the public is advised to remain clear of the beach and water to avoid coming into contact with the oiled areas. The Reef and Pelican day use parking lots are closed. No swimming, surfing or use of beach is allowed as the need for prompt and intensive intervention efforts requires complete and unfettered access to the marine environment by local, state and federal officials.

The Beach Cottages, restaurants, campgrounds and back country trails remain open.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has set up the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline, which can be reached at (877) 823-6926, for individuals to call if anyone sees wildlife impacted from the oil. The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead agency coordinating the response to the oil spill incident, and the investigation into how the spill occurred.

Update, October 11th, 10AM:

Crystal Cove State Park’s coast is currently under a ‘soft closure’, meaning the water and waterline are closed, but the sand/beach is open. Stay aware of your surroundings and avoid touching any tar balls.

Update, October 12th, 10AM:

The water and shore at Crystal Cove State Park has reopened to the public.

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