Residents of Huntington Beach, California, say authorities were slow to react to a large oil spill off the coast.
The spill, which has sullied the beaches and poses a threat to wildlife, is believed to come from a leak in an underwater pipeline.
Residents say they noticed oil and the smell of petroleum Friday evening, but that there was no response until Saturday afternoon. They said it wasn’t until Saturday night that Amplify Energy Corp., the company that owns the pipeline, shut it down.
The company said divers are currently trying to pinpoint the source of the leak.
“By the time [the oil] comes to the beach, it’s done tremendous damage. Our frustration is, it could have been averted if there was a quick response,” said Garry Brown, president of the environmental group Orange County Coastkeeper, who lives in Huntington Beach.
More than 572,000 liters of crude have reportedly leaked, some of it washing up in coastal Orange County. Several beaches in the area are closed and could remain so for weeks or months, according to Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr.
In response to the spill, crews led by the U.S. Coast Guard have deployed skimmers and booms to try to contain the damage. Of particular concern is the Talbert Marsh, a 10-hectare wetland.
Congresswoman Michelle Steel, a Republican representing the affected area, has asked President Joe Biden to declare a disaster so that federal money can be allocated toward the cleanup.
“This is a really serious disaster,” she told CNN.
Some information in this report comes from AP and Reuters.