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Press Release | March 11, 2024

UPDATE Final: Unified Command concludes response to sheen offshore of Huntington Beach

Coast Guard District Eleven

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Unified Command concluded its response Monday to an oil sheen observed offshore of Huntington Beach.

Over the weekend, cleanup crews recovered approximately 85 gallons of product from offshore recovery efforts and removed roughly 1,050 pounds of oily waste/sand and tar balls from the shoreline. Official quantification of product collected throughout the response is ongoing.

"In the face of this environmental challenge, the strength of our partnerships has once again proven to be our greatest asset. The Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and our local Orange County agencies and departments mobilized swiftly to mitigate the impact of the oil sheen off Huntington Beach," said Capt. Ryan Manning, the federal on-scene coordinator for the response. "This operation underscores the importance of readiness, collaboration, and a shared dedication to preserving the natural beauty and health of our environment. As we conclude this response, we remain vigilant and prepared to respond to future incidents, ensuring the protection of our marine and coastal resources for generations to come."

The U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR) collected samples from the offshore sheen and tar balls along the shoreline to help determine the source of the oil. Analyses by CDFW-OSPR's Petroleum Chemistry Lab were unable to definitively identify the oil source.

However, the preliminary laboratory results of the oil samples collected confirm that the release is lightly weathered crude oil and not a refined product like gasoline or diesel. They also indicate that the samples are consistent with local crude oil with characteristics of the Monterey Formation and not imported crude oil that may be brought by ship to California.

The preliminary laboratory results indicate that the oil samples analyzed from this incident are more characteristic of freshly produced oil than heavily weathered oil, which is associated with typical natural seeps. The lab results were also inconsistent with archived samples from oil platforms in the area. While a discharge of produced water from Platform Elly was reported on the morning of March 8 (CalOES #24-1414), the characteristics of the produced water do not align with what was observed from the sheen.

While it is believed this was a one-time event, samples will be taken for additional analysis if another release is observed. The USCG and CDFW-OSPR will return to their standard emergency response posture. Huntington Beach Lifeguards will continue to monitor the beach for tarball conditions that exceed characteristics associated with natural seeps in the area.

Initial press release:

Update 1 release:

Update 2 release:

Update 3 release: