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California-based oil company identified as source of latest sheen off Orange County coast

Boats survey behind the surf with oil rigs in the background.
Boats survey the waters on Dec. 16 after an earlier oil sheen was spotted off Bolsa Chica State Beach.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A California-based oil and gas company has been identified as the source of an oil sheen spotted last week off Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County, state officials said.

DCOR, a small company based in Oxnard, was identified as the source, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response tweeted Saturday.

“A responsible party has been identified as DCOR LLC. The sheen was observed in the vicinity of their pipeline, (Pipeline 0919), which runs from Platform Eva,” the department said. All platform and pipeline operations in the vicinity have ceased, and officials are watching for “any indications of additional discharge of oil.”

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The size of the sheen has yet to be determined. Divers plan to visit the affected area Tuesday to inspect the pipeline once the weather improves, officials said. Samples were collected Wednesday as part of the investigation.

“No oiled wildlife observed,” according to state Fish and Wildlife. Oiled Wildlife Care Network “remains on standby.”

DCOR officials could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday morning.

Neighboring Long Beach so far has not been affected by the oil sheen, but officials said they remain on watch as it travels north toward the San Gabriel River and Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

“We’re still OK,” said Gonzalo Medina, marine safety chief of the Long Beach Fire Department. “Rain has the adverse effect of breaking up most oil sheen in the sense that it breaks them up into other clumps and makes it harder to track. But as soon as the rain breaks, we were back on it and looking for it.”

Long Beach is “actively looking at contingency plans for various scenarios and is prepared to clear beaches immediately, start our own local mitigation efforts and provide further updates as needed,” city officials said in a statement.

The sheen was reported last Wednesday about one mile offshore from Bolsa Chica State Beach. Authorities placed protective booms at environmentally sensitive areas including Talbert Marsh, the Bolsa Chica wetlands, Newport Beach’s Semeniuk Slough and the Santa Ana River.

A day after the sighting, agencies monitored shorelines from Anaheim Bay to the Sana Ana River, officials said. Tarballs eventually drifted onshore near a Huntington Beach lifeguard tower and Dog Beach.

This is the most recent sheen identified this month since another roughly the size of a football field was found in the Pacific Ocean about two miles off Huntington Beach.

In October, a major offshore pipeline leak released an estimated 25,000 gallons of oil into the San Pedro Channel that closed beaches from Huntington to San Clemente. Initial reports that 130,000 gallons had been spilled sparked fears of an environmental catastrophe that would kill wildlife and pollute beaches for years. But the oil was mostly contained off the coast and did not cause significant destruction of tidal habitat.


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