2442248556096741

Browsed by
Tag: oil spill

Did ship’s anchor cause California oil spill? Maybe

Did ship’s anchor cause California oil spill? Maybe


Officials investigating one of California’s largest recent oil spills are looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck an oil pipeline on the ocean floor, causing heavy crude to leak into coastal waters and foul beaches, authorities said Monday.


The head of the company that operates the pipeline said company divers were inspecting the area of the suspected leak that was discovered Saturday, and he expected that by Tuesday there would be a clearer of what caused the damage.

A anchor from a cargo ship striking the pipeline is “one of the distinct possibilities” behind the leak, Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher told a news conference. He said divers have examined more than 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) of the pipeline and were focusing on “one area of significant interest.”

Cargo ships entering the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach routinely pass through the area, Coast Guard officials said. Backlogs have plagued the ports in recent months and several dozen or more of the giant vessels have regularly been anchored as they wait to enter the ports and unload.

“We’re looking into if it could have been an anchor from a ship, but that’s in the assessment phase right now,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeannie Shaye said.

Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Image 1 of 8

Oil floats on the water surface after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday, to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The spill sent up to 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude into the ocean, contaminating the sands of famed Huntington Beach and other coastal communities. The spill could keep beaches closed for weeks or longer.

The Orange County district attorney, Todd Spitzer, said he has investigators looking into whether he can bring state charges for the spill even though the leak occurred in waters overseen by the U.S. government.

Spitzer also said Amplify’s divers should not be allowed near the pipeline without an independent authority alongside them.

Other potential criminal investigations were being pursued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, officials said.

Volunteers worked Sunday to try to clear crude oil from a beach in Southern California, after an estimated 126,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the waters off Orange County starting late Friday or early Saturday. (Oct. 4)

Safety advocates have pushed for years for federal rules that would strengthen oil spill detection requirements and force companies to install valves that can automatically shut down the flow of crude in case of a leak. The oil and pipeline industries have resisted such requirements because of the high cost.

“If the operator had more valves installed on this line, they’d have a much better chance at having the point of failure isolated by now,” said Bill Caram with the Pipeline Safety Trust, an organization based in Bellingham, Washington.

The pipeline was built using a process known as electric resistance weld, according to a regulatory filing from the company. That welding process has been linked to past oil pipeline failures because corrosion can occur along seams, according to government safety advisories and Pipeline Safety Trust Director Bill Caram.

Annual reports filed with federal regulators in 2019 and 2020 showed inspections for the inside and outside of the pipe revealed nothing requiring repairs.

Crews on the water and on shore are working feverishly to limit environmental damage from one of the largest oil spills in recent California history, after an underwater pipeline started leaking oil late Friday or early Saturday. (Oct. 3)

On Sunday as the extent of the spill was being revealed environmentalists had feared the oil might devastate birds and marine life in the area. But Michael Ziccardi, a veterinarian and director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, said only four oily birds had been found so far. One suffered chronic injuries and had to be euthanized, he said.

“It’s much better than we had feared,” he said at a news conference Monday.

Ziccardi said he’s “cautiously optimistic,” but it’s too soon to know the extent of the spill’s effect on wildlife. In other offshore oil spills, the largest number of oiled birds have been collected two to five days after the incident, he said.

Amplify operates three oil platforms about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) off the coast of California, all installed between 1980 and 1984. The company also operates a 16-inch pipeline that carries oil from a processing platform to an onshore storage facility in Long Beach. The company has said the oil appears to be coming from a rupture in that pipeline about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) from the platform.

In a 2016 spill-response plan submitted to federal regulators, the company said its worst-case spill scenario was based on the assumption of a “full guillotine cut” of the pipeline occurring 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) inland from one of its platforms. But an outside consultant concluded that a spill of that size was “very unlikely” at that location because the line is 120 feet deep and beneath a shipping lane where ships do not normally anchor.

The Beta oil field has been owned by at least seven different corporations since it was discovered by Royal Dutch Shell in 1976, records show. A corporate predecessor of Amplify bought the operation in 2012.

The Amplify subsidiary known as Beta Operating Co. has been cited 125 times for safety and environmental violations since 1980, according to a database from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the federal agency that regulates the offshore oil and gas industry. The online database provides only the total number of violations, not the details for each incident.

Huntington Beach Oil Spill

Image 1 of 7

Cleanup contractors get ready to work in the Wetlands Talbert Marsh after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday, to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The company was fined a total of $85,000 for three incidents. Two were from 2014, when a worker who was not wearing proper protective equipment was shocked with 98,000 volts of electricity. The worker survived. In a separate incident, crude oil was released through a boom where a safety device had been improperly bypassed.

In 1999, an undersea pipeline running between two platforms sprang two leaks totaling at least 3,800 gallons of oil, causing tar balls to wash up on beaches in Orange County.

The cause of of the leaks was determined to be corrosion that caused pin-sized holes in the steel walls of the pipeline. The owner of the oil field at the time, a partnership between Mobil Oil Corp. and Shell Oil Co. called Aera Energy LLC, was fined $48,000 by federal regulators — a penalty environmental groups criticized as a slap on the wrist.

Before the spill, Amplify had high hopes for the Beta oil field and was pouring millions of dollars into upgrades and new “side track” projects that would tap into oil by drilling laterally.

“We have the opportunity to keep going for as long as we want,” Willsher said in an August conference call with investors. He added there was capacity “up to 20,000 barrels a day.”

Investors shared Willsher’s optimism, sending the company’s stock up more than sevenfold since the beginning of the year to $5.75 at the close of trading on Friday. The stock plunged 43% in trading Monday.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and emerged a few months later. It had been using cash generated by the Beta field and others in Oklahoma and Texas to pay down $235 million in debt.

Source:

Stefanie Dazio & Christopher Weber via Associated Press



On the Web This Week, 24 October

On the Web This Week, 24 October

On the web this week, Sri Lanka attempts to deal with its human-elephant relationship, scuba diving grandmothers discover an unexpected sea snake population, and a mysterious oil spill off the coast of Brazil.

Picture credit: Rachel Nuwer

“Sri Lanka has the highest level of human-elephant conflict in the world,” says Prithiviraj Fernando, chairman of the Centre for Conservation and Research in Tissamaharama. “Wherever there are people and elephants, there’s conflict.”

For more than 70 years, Sri Lanka has attempted to solve the problem by moving elephants to national parks. According to the government’s approach, the world’s second-largest land animal belongs in protected areas surrounded by electric fencing, while people belong everywhere else.

Picture credit: Claire Goiran/UNC

A group of snorkelling grandmothers who swim up to 3km five days a week have uncovered a large population of venomous sea snakes in a bay in Noumea where scientists once believed they were rare. Claire Goiran from the University of New Caledonia and Professor Rick Shine from Australia’s Macquarie University were studying a small harmless species known as the turtle‐headed sea snake located in the Baie des Citrons, but would occasionally encounter the 1.5 metre-long venomous greater sea snake, also known as the olive-headed sea snake.

Goiran and Shine believed the greater sea snake was an anomaly in the popular swimming bay as it had only been spotted about six times over 15 years. From 2013, they decided to take a closer look at the greater sea snake to better understand its importance to the bay’s ecosystem.

Picture credit: Antonello Veneri / AFP

It washed ashore in early September, thick globs of oil that appeared from out of nowhere and defied explanation. In the weeks since, the mysterious sludge — 600 tons, the largest spill in Brazil’s history — has tarred more than 1,600 kilometres of shoreline, polluted some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and killed all sorts of marine life.

But despite the time that has passed — and the damage done – the most important questions remain unanswered. Where is the oil coming from? And how can it be stopped?

Picture credit: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Coca-Cola was found for the second year in a row to be the most polluting brand in a global audit of plastic trash conducted by the Break Free From Plastic global movement. The giant soda company was responsible for more plastic litter than the next top three polluters combined.

Reaffirming the importance of sustainable environmental practices, Stellenbosch Wine Routes this week signed the Porto Protocol, committing the leading wine route in South Africa to an accelerated contribution towards climate change mitigation.

Launched by former US President Barack Obama in 2018, the Porto Protocol is a global sustainable initiative signed by companies across numerous industries. These have pledged to play their part in employing and sharing sustainable environmental practices to combat climate change.

Picture credit: Farmer’s Weekly

Urban agriculture has a major role to play in providing healthy, affordable and accessible food to poor urban households in South Africa, according to Prof Juaneé Cilliers, chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North-West University.

Click the banner above to get a one-month free trial of Kindle Unlimited, which enables you to read thousands of books for a single monthly fee, including all the books in our reading list below:

Continuing from last week, is part two in a six-part documentary series on global cities and the development of urban networks as the emerging geography of connectivity in an age of globalization. In this part we look at the historical development of urban centers from ancient times through to the industrial revolution. Produced by: https://systemsinnovation.io

Did you enjoy this week’s stories? Comment below and let us know! If you’re looking for eco-friendly, sustainable products for your home and/or outdoor needs, please consider one of the products below. As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn a commission on sales, which helps us to keep up our mission of keeping you entertained and informed.