CEO of firm whose pipeline spilled 126,000 gallons off Huntington Beach claims leak has stopped

Martyn Willsher, who oversees Amplify Energy Corp., said Sunday his company's 17½-mile pipeline that sprung the leak had been 'suctioned at both ends' so no more oil would spill out into the already contaminated Pacific

Martyn Willsher, who oversees Amplify Energy Corp., said Sunday his company's 17½-mile pipeline that sprung the leak had been 'suctioned at both ends' so no more oil would spill out into the already contaminated Pacific

Martyn Willsher, who oversees Amplify Energy Corp., said Sunday his company’s 17½-mile pipeline that sprung the leak had been ‘suctioned at both ends’ so no more oil would spill out into the already contaminated Pacific

The CEO of an energy firm whose pipeline leaked 126,000 gallons of oil onto the California coast says the spillage has stopped, with his company’s share price plunging by more than 50 per cent on Monday amid fury over the environmental catastrophe.

Martyn Willsher, who oversees the operations of Houston-based oil company Amplify Energy Corp., said Sunday that his company’s 17½-mile underwater pipeline that sprung the leak had been ‘suctioned at both ends’ over the weekend. That means no more oil would spill out into the already contaminated Pacific, and shores of a 13 mile stretch of coastline encompassing Huntington Beach as well as Newport Beach. 

The oil it did leak – equivalent to 3,000 barrels – represented the entire capacity of the pipeline, which is attached to an oil processing platform called Elly. On Monday morning, Amplify’s shares plunged by 50.43 per cent, from $5.75 per share to $2.85 a share as stock markets opened. 

Its share price had climbed to $3.14 per share by 10:50am, but that was still down 45.3 per cent on Friday’s close. 

Investors are no doubt spooked by the prospect of lawsuits, with Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr vowing to hold the oil firm ‘accountable.’ The spillage – believed to have begun on Friday – canceled the second day of the popular Pacific Air Show, which attracted more than one million visitors on Saturday, with local businesses also likely to make claims for compensation. 

Willsher added that the company is investigating the spill and that divers were at a potential source site of the leak, asserting that the pipeline – built in the late 70s and early 80s – has had undergone maintenance and has been ‘meticulously maintained’ every year since, even during the COVID pandemic. 

‘Everything is shut down,’ Willsher said. ‘Our employees live and work in these communities, and we’re all deeply impacted and concerned about the impact,’ the executive added.

‘We will do everything in our power to ensure that this is recovered as quickly as possible.’

The pipeline is operated by Beta, a Long Beach-based offshoot of Amplify. It sat 80 feet to 100 feet below the surface, and was linked to three offshore platforms, two of which pumped the oil before it was processed by Elly. 

The leak stemmed from a 17.5 mile pipeline spanning from Amplify's Elly oil rig seven miles off the coast of Long Beach, to a pump station operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston-based Amplify, and has spread to a slew of beaches and coastal areas across California's Orange County

The leak stemmed from a 17.5 mile pipeline spanning from Amplify's Elly oil rig seven miles off the coast of Long Beach, to a pump station operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston-based Amplify, and has spread to a slew of beaches and coastal areas across California's Orange County

The leak stemmed from a 17.5 mile pipeline spanning from Amplify’s Elly oil rig seven miles off the coast of Long Beach, to a pump station operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston-based Amplify, and has spread to a slew of beaches and coastal areas across California’s Orange County

An aerial photo shot Sunday shows oil begin to pool on the sandy shores of the Santa Ana River, close to Newport Beach in California

An aerial photo shot Sunday shows oil begin to pool on the sandy shores of the Santa Ana River, close to Newport Beach in California

An aerial photo shot Sunday shows oil begin to pool on the sandy shores of the Santa Ana River, close to Newport Beach in California 

The Coast Guard was mobilized over the weekend and struggled to contain the spread of the 13-square-mile oil slick on Sunday

The Coast Guard was mobilized over the weekend and struggled to contain the spread of the 13-square-mile oil slick on Sunday

The Coast Guard was mobilized over the weekend and struggled to contain the spread of the 13-square-mile oil slick on Sunday

The Coast Guard has recovered 3,150 gallons of oil from the water off the Orange County coast, a small dent in the overall amount of 126,000 gallons of the contaminant

The Coast Guard has recovered 3,150 gallons of oil from the water off the Orange County coast, a small dent in the overall amount of 126,000 gallons of the contaminant

The Coast Guard has recovered 3,150 gallons of oil from the water off the Orange County coast, a small dent in the overall amount of 126,000 gallons of the contaminant

An estuary in Huntington Beach is pictured caked in oil Monday morning, with a clean-up worker seen reflected in the water

An estuary in Huntington Beach is pictured caked in oil Monday morning, with a clean-up worker seen reflected in the water

An estuary in Huntington Beach is pictured caked in oil Monday morning, with a clean-up worker seen reflected in the water

Oil is pictured on the surface of the water off Huntington Beach Monday morning as the sun begins to rise

Oil is pictured on the surface of the water off Huntington Beach Monday morning as the sun begins to rise

Oil is pictured on the surface of the water off Huntington Beach Monday morning as the sun begins to rise 

Oil is seen coagulating at the surface of shallow waters off the coast of Orange County, as the initial spillage has spread from miles offshore and reached the county's beachside areas, like this estuary in Huntington Beach

Oil is seen coagulating at the surface of shallow waters off the coast of Orange County, as the initial spillage has spread from miles offshore and reached the county's beachside areas, like this estuary in Huntington Beach

Oil is seen coagulating at the surface of shallow waters off the coast of Orange County, as the initial spillage has spread from miles offshore and reached the county’s beachside areas, like this estuary in Huntington Beach

Cleanup crews collect oil in plastic bags in an attempt to stop further oil crude incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach

Cleanup crews collect oil in plastic bags in an attempt to stop further oil crude incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach

Cleanup crews collect oil in plastic bags in an attempt to stop further oil crude incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach

A fish is visible swimming under an oil slick in Huntington Beach's Talbert Channel, amid fears the weekend's spill will kill large numbers of fish and birds

A fish is visible swimming under an oil slick in Huntington Beach's Talbert Channel, amid fears the weekend's spill will kill large numbers of fish and birds

A fish is visible swimming under an oil slick in Huntington Beach’s Talbert Channel, amid fears the weekend’s spill will kill large numbers of fish and birds 

Beaches in Orange County could remain closed for month as a result of the spillage, after the oil spread to areas along the coast

Beaches in Orange County could remain closed for month as a result of the spillage, after the oil spread to areas along the coast

Beaches in Orange County could remain closed for month as a result of the spillage, after the oil spread to areas along the coast

The major oil spill off the coast of Southern California has been stopped, according to the company responsible, after 126,000 gallons of crude spread across Orange County shorelines on Sunday evening

The major oil spill off the coast of Southern California has been stopped, according to the company responsible, after 126,000 gallons of crude spread across Orange County shorelines on Sunday evening

The major oil spill off the coast of Southern California has been stopped, according to the company responsible, after 126,000 gallons of crude spread across Orange County shorelines on Sunday evening

Oil that flowed in from high tide and was held back by a sand berm and boom in a trapped pool as a major oil spill washes ashore on the border of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach

Oil that flowed in from high tide and was held back by a sand berm and boom in a trapped pool as a major oil spill washes ashore on the border of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach

Oil that flowed in from high tide and was held back by a sand berm and boom in a trapped pool as a major oil spill washes ashore on the border of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach

The oil-polluted Santa Ana River at the border of Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach Sunday is home to a variety of wildlife, especially birds. If birds like this egret pictured here get oil on their feathers, they cannot fly, nor can they properly clean themselves or regulate their own body temperatures

The oil-polluted Santa Ana River at the border of Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach Sunday is home to a variety of wildlife, especially birds. If birds like this egret pictured here get oil on their feathers, they cannot fly, nor can they properly clean themselves or regulate their own body temperatures

The oil-polluted Santa Ana River at the border of Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach Sunday is home to a variety of wildlife, especially birds. If birds like this egret pictured here get oil on their feathers, they cannot fly, nor can they properly clean themselves or regulate their own body temperatures

The state of the waters along the Orange County coast show the severity of the spill, and how dangerous oil drilling can be

The state of the waters along the Orange County coast show the severity of the spill, and how dangerous oil drilling can be

The state of the waters along the Orange County coast show the severity of the spill, and how dangerous oil drilling can be

Crews raced Sunday morning to contain the damage from the major oil spill, which spread all along the California coast

Crews raced Sunday morning to contain the damage from the major oil spill, which spread all along the California coast

Crews raced Sunday morning to contain the damage from the major oil spill, which spread all along the California coast

The oil slick is believed to have originated from a pipeline leak, causing 126,000 gallons of crude to pour into the area's coastal waters , as lifeguards deployed floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further contamination

The oil slick is believed to have originated from a pipeline leak, causing 126,000 gallons of crude to pour into the area's coastal waters , as lifeguards deployed floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further contamination

The oil slick is believed to have originated from a pipeline leak, causing 126,000 gallons of crude to pour into the area’s coastal waters , as lifeguards deployed floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further contamination

 

Amplify stock plummeted by more than half of its market value Monday morning in pre-opening trading, compared to the day prior

Amplify stock plummeted by more than half of its market value Monday morning in pre-opening trading, compared to the day prior

Amplify stock plummeted by more than half of its market value Monday morning in pre-opening trading, compared to the day prior








The leak – which likely sprung late Friday night – left a slew of beaches in the Orange County area badly contaminated, with locals banned from taking to the waters. 

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Saturday that the beaches of the community nicknamed ‘Surf City’ could remain closed for months, and hinted that her office is investigating ways to hold the oil company accountable.

‘In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades,’ Carr said. 

‘In the coming days and weeks we challenge the responsible parties to do everything possible to rectify this environmental catastrophe.’ 

Carr added: ‘We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors and our natural habitats.’ 

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Saturday that the beaches of the community nicknamed 'Surf City' could remain closed for months, and hinted that her office is investigating ways to hold the oil company accountable.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Saturday that the beaches of the community nicknamed 'Surf City' could remain closed for months, and hinted that her office is investigating ways to hold the oil company accountable.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Saturday that the beaches of the community nicknamed ‘Surf City’ could remain closed for months, and hinted that her office is investigating ways to hold the oil company accountable.

However, oil still ‘infiltrated’ and contaminated Talbert Marsh, a wetland situated on the Orange County coast, home to many bird species.  

The county is building a ‘sand berm’ barrier to keep the oil from intruding further, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said on Sunday.  

Other areas effected include the Santa Ana River Trail and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve – also rich with wildlife. 

Foley added that hordes of dead birds and fish have washed ashore along the county’s coast. 

Authorities said the oil came from Platform Elly, pictured here - a pipeline operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston's Amplify Energy

Authorities said the oil came from Platform Elly, pictured here - a pipeline operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston's Amplify Energy

Authorities said the oil came from Platform Elly, pictured here – a pipeline operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston’s Amplify Energy

The coast is a renowned habitat for threatened and endangered species as well, including humpback whales and a small wading bird called the snowy plover. 

‘The coastal areas off of Southern California are just really rich for wildlife, a key biodiversity hot spot,’ Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program, told The Associated Press

Birds that get oil on their feathers will not be able to fly, hindering them from going out and finding food, Sakashita said, adding that they will also be left unable to properly clean themselves or regulate their own body temperatures.

Whales, dolphins and other sea creatures, on the other hand, risk dying swimming through oil-tainted water or by breathing in toxic fumes.

‘The oil spill just shows how dirty and dangerous oil drilling is and oil that gets into the water. It’s impossible to clean it up so it ends up washing up on our beaches and people come into contact with it and wildlife comes in contact with it,’ she told the outlet. 

‘It has long-lasting effects on the breeding and reproduction of animals.’

Authorities said the oil came from Platform Elly, a pipeline operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston’s Amplify Energy.        

Hordes of dead birds and fish have washed ashore along the county's coast after the 13-square-mile spill left the area contaminated

Hordes of dead birds and fish have washed ashore along the county's coast after the 13-square-mile spill left the area contaminated

Hordes of dead birds and fish have washed ashore along the county’s coast after the 13-square-mile spill left the area contaminated

The 13-square-mile slick has since spread all across the Orange County coast, including to Newport Beach to the south – and, according to officials, will likely continue to do so.

Some residents and environmentalists, however, questioned whether authorities reacted quickly enough to contain one of the largest oil spills in recent California history.

Measures were not taken to stop the spread from reaching the area’s multitude of beaches and coastal areas until at least a day after the leak was allegedly first detected.

People who live in the area reported Friday evening that they noticed a foul petroleum odor emanating from off the coast, as well as a stark oil-like sheen coming from the water’s surface.

But it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that the Coast Guard was mobilized after the oil slick had been spotted. 

It was not until Saturday night that Amplify decided to finally shut down operations. 

Rick Torgerson, owner of a local yacht charter service based in Newport Beach, said Friday that ‘people were emailing’ him enquiring about the smell and the strange sheen, while a multitude of neighbors enquired, ‘Do you smell that?’ referring to the foul odor. 

The Orange County business owner added that as early as Saturday morning, boats were returning to the marina with their hulls completely covered in oil.

Garry Brown, president of the environmental group Orange County Coastkeeper, criticized the lack of coordination among the Coast Guard and local officials in dealing with the spread in a manner befitting of such a crisis.

‘By the time it comes to the beach, it’s done tremendous damage,’ he told The Press. 

‘Our frustration,’ reasoned Brown, a resident of Huntington Beach, ‘is, it could have been averted if there was a quick response.’

Booms were not deployed until Sunday to stop the resulting slick to spread to the county’s beaches. 

A warning was issued to Orange County residents by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, to not eat any fish and shellfish taken from 20 miles of shoreline, from Huntington Beach to Dana Point – labeling the fish a ‘threat to public health.’ 

U.S. Representative Michelle Steel, a Republican representing part of the affected area, sent a letter to Democratic President Joe Biden requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County, which would free up federal funds to help with the clean-up efforts, as the spill occurred in federal waters

In a statement, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), a division of the Interior Department, said it was supporting response efforts headed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The bureau said its role was to ‘assist in identifying the location and source of any spills and provide technical assistance in stopping the spillage.’ 

The Coast Guard has recovered 3,150 gallons of oil from the water and deployed 5,360 feet of skimmers and floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further incursion into the wetlands and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.  

The spill, the fifth-largest in California history, comes three decades after a massive oil leak hit the same stretch of Orange County coast. On Feb. 7, 1990, an oil tanker accidentally ran over its own anchor off Huntington Beach, spilling nearly 417,000 gallons of oil, killing more than 3,000 birds and countless fish.

In 2015, a ruptured pipeline north of Santa Barbara spurted 143,000 gallons of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach.  

In 1971, 800,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilled in San Francisco Bay, leaving a similarly devastating impact on the area’s wildlife.  

 In 1969, a blowout of a Union Oil drilling rig platform off the coast of Santa Barbara resulted in a spill of 4.2 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific and onto nearby shores.

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