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California oil spill: Coast Guard had earlier notice, report says

The U.S. Coast Guard reportedly received multiple communications of a possible fuel spill off the southern California coast earlier than previously disclosed. 

According to The Associated Press, records show that the Coast Guard asked local authorities to investigate the reports approximately 15 hours before its own personnel confirmed the oil slick. 


As oil came rushing out of an Amplify Energy-owned pipeline, initial reports came into the Coast Guard at about 5:30 p.m. PT on Oct. 1, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department memo obtained via the California Public Records Act.

The memo also said that there were additional similar calls over a marine radio emergency channel from boats leaving the Huntington Beach air show.

The document noted that while an Orange County Sheriff’s Department fireboat was sent to search for the spill, its crew lost visibility as the sun set.

In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, cargo vessels are seen anchored offshore, sharing space with oil platforms, before heading into the Los Angeles-Long Beach port.
(AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

The oil spill was not confirmed by authorities until around 9 a.m. on Oct. 2.

Fox News did not receive comment from the Coast Guard’s Unified Command Joint Information Center at the time of publication.

Notably, it was initially believed that the first word of a possible spill came to the Coast Guard at 6:13 p.m. PT on Friday from a foreign ship anchored off of the beach.

In addition, The Associated Press said that while Rear Adm. Brian Penoyer had said that the Coast Guard put out a radio broadcast to vessels and oil platforms in the area searching for reports confirming a possible spill, Capt. Rebecca Ore said no broadcasts were made.


While Penoyer said that the Coast Guard did not send a boat out to search for the spill due to both darkness and the lack of proper technology, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department memo allegedly said that the Coast Guard requested that Harbor Patrol dispatch a boat.

In the morning, the Coast Guard contacted Harbor Patrol again and its hazardous materials investigators took a county fireboat, eventually locating the spill.

Federal investigators are still looking into whether the 1,200-foot Panama-registered MSC DANIT container ship was dragging anchor during a Jan. 25 storm and snagged the pipeline. 

However, it is not known why the leak happened eight months later and authorities are still investigating whether other anchors had hit and weakened the pipeline or if a pre-existing condition was to blame.

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach in Corona Del Mar after an oil spill in Newport Beach, Calif. 

FILE – In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach in Corona Del Mar after an oil spill in Newport Beach, Calif. 
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

The Houston-based Amplify Energy’s maintenance of the pipeline is also under scrutiny, in addition to its response time.

The Coast Guard says that approximately 25,000 gallons of oil spilled off of Orange County, forcing beach closures and killing dozens of birds.


Tar balls have washed up on beaches up and down the coastline, although it was unclear whether the tar balls were all directly linked to the spill.

While the damage appears not as great as initially feared, environmental advocates point out that the long-term impact remains unknown and a group of organizations on Wednesday demanded the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off California’s coast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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