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California oil spill state of emergency: criminal, civil probes reportedly launched

crime” target=”_blank”>Criminal and civil probes< off the coast of us-regions sent up to 144,000 gallons of heavy crude into the environment over the weekend. 

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer had said investigators were looking into whether charges could be brought for the planet-earth – even though the leak occurred in waters overseen by the U.S. government – and other officials said additional potential criminal investigations were being pursued by the Justice Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

CALIFORNIA OIL SPILL CAUSES RESIDENTS TO QUESTION AUTHORITIES’ RESPONSE TIME

A state spokesperson told USA Today late Monday that numerous government probes of the spill and the circumstances that led to it are underway.

“Full federal and state criminal and civil investigations of the spill are underway,” Eric Laughlin, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oil Spill Prevention Response arm, told the outlet.

On Monday, California gavin-newsom” target=”_blank”>Gov. Gavin Newsom< in Orange County to support emergency response to the spill. 

“The state is moving to cut red tape and mobilize all available resources to protect public health and the environment,” he said in a statement. “As California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the planet-earth crisis, this incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”

The governor’s office said the state had deployed personnel from the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to the incident command, coordinating with the military, local agencies and responsible parties.

Staff from California State Parks, California Volunteers, California State Lands Commission, CAL FIRE and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, among others, are also on the ground.

Coast Guard officials said Monday that investigators were looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck a pipeline on the ocean floor.

An aerial photo shows floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

An aerial photo shows floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Cargo ships often pass through the area and backlogs have affected ports in recent months.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeannie Shaye told reporters that the agency was not notified of the spill until early Saturday, though records show its hazardous spill response hotline received the first report of a possible oil slick Friday evening.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TRIES TO LIMIT LARGEST OIL SPILL IN RECENT HISTORY, BEACHES COULD BE CLOSED FOR MONTHS 

energy” target=”_blank”>Amplify Energy Corp.< that about 3% of the oil has been captured thus far.

Annual reports to regulators in 2019 and 2020 revealed that inspections showed nothing inside or outside of the pipe required repairs.

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While it is still too soon to determine the impact on the surrounding environment” target=”_blank”>environment< could be closed for weeks and coastal fisheries are closed to both commercial and recreational fishing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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