Excerpted from the Associated Press
By Amy Taxin and Brian Melley
The Coast Guard received multiple reports of a possible fuel spill off the Southern California coast earlier than previously disclosed and asked local authorities to investigate about 15 hours before its own personnel confirmed a large oil slick, which came from a leaking undersea pipeline, records show.
The initial reports of a possible spill north of the Huntington Beach pier came into the Coast Guard about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s memo provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. The documents said there were multiple similar calls over a marine radio emergency channel from boats leaving the Huntington Beach air show.
The department, which runs the county’s harbor patrol, sent a fireboat to search for the spill, but the crew lost visibility as darkness fell, according to the memo obtained through the California Public Records Act. The spill wasn’t confirmed until about 9 a.m. Saturday.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, who chairs a state legislative committee looking into the spill, said she was told the spill was reported much later Friday evening when it was too late to detect because of darkness.
“It seems too crazy in a world where we’re trying to send a man to Mars that we can’t inspect a potential oil slick in the dark,” she said.