Some beaches closed after an offshore pipeline leak spilled oil into the water off Huntington Beach are back open about a week after the leak.
Offshore recovery teams reported Saturday that they have not observed any free-floating oil in the water for three consecutive days.
On Sunday, the city of Huntington Beach and the California State Parks announced that they plan to reopen both city and state beaches in Huntington Beach on Monday.
Cleanup assessment teams equipped with protective gear were monitoring, inspecting and cleaning beaches in Orange and San Diego counties, and officials warned members of the public not to handle any tar balls they may encounter on the sand.
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Visitors were warned not to handle any tar balls they may encounter on the sand. Oil contains hazardous chemicals, and beachgoers who encounter tar balls were encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org. If skin contact occurs, they are advised to wash the area with soap and water or baby oil and avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, or similar products on the skin. Officials say these products, when applied to skin, present a greater health hazard than the tar ball itself.
According to data provided Sunday afternoon by the Unified Command handling the cleanup effort:
- More than 1,600 people are conducting response operations.
- To date, 5,544 total gallons of crude oil have been recovered by vessel.
- 13.6 barrels of tar balls were recovered Saturday.
- Approximately 250,000 pounds of oily debris has been recovered from shorelines.
Officials also said a temporary flight restriction was lifted Friday.
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The leak was reported on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 2 a few miles off the Huntington Beach coast, although some boaters reported smelling something in the water Friday.
Authorities initially estimated that as much as 144,000 gallons of oil may have leaked from the damaged pipeline, but officials said Thursday the actual amount is likely much lower, although there is still no firm number. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, USCG Capt. Rebecca Ore estimated that roughly 588 barrels of oil had spilled, which would equate to about 24,700 gallons.
That's being considered a minimum amount leaked, but officials were unsure of a possible maximum number.