LONG BEACH, Calif. — Evidence emerged Tuesday that a ship’s anchor snagged and dragged an underwater pipeline that ruptured and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil off Huntington Beach in Orange County, California.
The evidence that surfaced Tuesday came as the Coast Guard acknowledged it did not investigate the spill for nearly 10 hours after the first call came in.
Federal transportation investigators say the pipeline was split open and a huge section was apparently dragged more than 100 feet along the ocean floor, possibly by an anchor that hooked the pipeline and caused a partial tear.
The spill sent up to 126,000 gallons of heavy crude into the ocean off Huntington Beach.
The Coast Guard says it did not investigate initial reports of an oil spill for nearly 12 hours because it didn’t have enough corroborating evidence and the agency was hindered by darkness and a lack of technology.
► Stay in the know! Sign up now for the Daily Blend Newsletter
Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Coast Guard was alerted Friday night by a “good Samaritan” that there was a sheen on the water. It put out a broadcast to the many cargo and tanker ships anchored off the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports seeking more information, but it did not receive any supporting reports.
Below is a map from NOAA's Environmental Response Management Application:
Since a pipeline spilled crude off the California coast this weekend, just a handful of oiled birds have been recovered in what environmental advocates said could be a hopeful sign for the region’s wildlife.
But they say it’s too soon to know how many seabirds, marine mammals and other animals will be ultimately affected by the oily film covering marsh areas and floating on the ocean _ or for how long.
Oiled seabirds are often among the earliest victims of a spill because gobs of crude can clump their feathers together, leaving them chilled by ocean water. Sea mammals and fish that ingest oil can also be affected later on.
Damage to coastal wetlands where fish go to spawn can erode critical habitat for scores of species.
► Check socalspillresponse.com for the latest on cleanup and beach closures.
WATCH MORE: Gov. Newsom and other officials provide cleanup update on Tuesday afternoon.