The Times podcast: The oil spill along California’s fragile coast

An aerial view of oil booms holding back contaminated water
An aerial view of oil booms holding back contaminated water at the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times )

It’s been about a week since a big oil spill hit the Southern California shoreline near Orange County. Tar sullied sensitive wetlands. Birds and fish died. Miles of beaches were closed. The L.A. Times newsroom has produced dozens of stories trying to understand what happened, and what we’ve found so far isn’t pretty: aging offshore oil platforms and pipelines — being bought up by companies that have a history of safety violations.


Today, we speak to L.A. Times investigative reporter Connor Sheets about the causes of the so-called Huntington Beach oil spill. And an environmental activist describes what she found when visiting Southern California’s offshore drilling platforms in 2018.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times investigative reporter Connor Sheets and Center for Biological Diversity oceans program director Miyoko Sakashita

More reading:

Full coverage: What to know about the Huntington Beach oil spill

California attorney general launches investigation into Orange County oil spill

Federal regulation of oil platforms was dogged by problems long before O.C. spill

How much would it cost to shut down an offshore oil well? Who pays?

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Melissa Kaplan and Ashlea Brown. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.