Coast Guard says initial oil spill report not enough to act

National News

Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach after an oil spill in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. The Coast Guard received the first report of a possible oil spill off the Southern California coast more than 12 hours before a company reported a major leak in its pipeline and a cleanup effort was launched, records show. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Coast Guard did not investigate initial reports of an oil spill for nearly 12 hours because it didn’t have enough corroborating evidence and was hindered by darkness and a lack of technology, an official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer acknowledged that the Coast Guard was alerted Friday night by a “good Samaritan” that there was a sheen on the water. It put out a broadcast to the many cargo and tanker ships anchored off the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports seeking more information, but did not receive any supporting reports.

Penoyer said it was common to get reports of a sheen near a busy seaport. It would take more than 12 hours before an oil pipeline company reported a spill that could be up to 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude.

“In hindsight, it seems obvious, but they didn’t know that at that time,” Penoyer said. “So putting yourself in the position of what they did know, this is a very normal process.”

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