Speed Reads

under investigation

Officials looking into possibility that a ship's anchor caused California oil spill

Officials are investigating what caused a massive oil spill off the coast of Southern California, including the "distinct" possibility that a ship's anchor hit the pipeline running from the Port of Long Beach to an offshore oil platform known as Elly.

Amplify Energy Corp., the parent company of the pipeline's operator, raised this possibility during a Monday news conference, with the company's CEO sharing that after a team of divers examined more than 8,000 feet of pipe, they found there is one "specific area of significant interest." The Coast Guard said it is looking into this, as well as several other potential causes.

The spill was first reported on Saturday morning, but more than a dozen residents of Newport Beach called the police to report the smell of tar on Friday evening. About 126,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Catalina Channel, and the slick covers 8,320 acres, the Los Angeles Times reports. It is threatening several cities, including Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Huntington Beach, and an unknown number of fish and birds have been killed. The Coast Guard said 14 boats working on Sunday afternoon were able to recover roughly 3,150 gallons of oil from the ocean, as they work to keep the spill from coming to shore.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he wants an independent agency to run the probe into what caused the pipeline rupture, not Amplify Energy Corp.'s own divers. "If that is not done independently, that is a travesty," he said during a Monday news conference. "The company should not be responsible for leading its own investigation with respect to the hundreds of millions of dollars of devastation that it did to our environment and our economy."