A Liberian-owned ship called the Beijing is believed to be responsible for the massive oil spill that tarnished Southern California beaches last month after the vessel’s anchor dragged across the seabed and cracked a crucial pipeline
The U.S. Coast Guard together with the National Transportation Safety Board Friday identified the cargo ship Costco Beijing as the vessel that was likely involved in the incident.
Although the pipe was hit by the anchor in January, it didn’t begin to leak oil until October, investigators said.
The owners of Beijing, Capetanissa Maritime Corp. of Liberia, and operator, V.Ships Greece Ltd. were both named as ‘parties in interest,’ and investigators boarded the vessel at the Port of Long Beach on Thursday.
The Cosco Beijing cargo ship is under investigation for its potential involvement in an early October oil spill off the Southern California coastline
The US Coast Guard reported the pipeline rupture spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, but it’s believed the pipeline was damaged in January
The pipe (circled in red) was dragged 105 feet away and is bowed after a suspected anchor dragged it across the ocean floor
Roughly 25,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean, a SoCal Oil Response rep said
The finding means investigators will now be able to be examine the vessel more closely as the probe into the spill moves forward.
Federal investigators managed to determine that the ship had been involved in the anchor dragging incident, which happened ‘in close proximity’ to an underwater pipeline.
The pipeline was later found to be the source of the leak, causing thousands of gallons of oil to spew into the ocean – which shut beaches and marinas in Orange County.
The leak stemmed from a 17.5-mile pipeline spanning from Amplify’s Elly oil rig seven miles off the coast of Long Beach to a pump station operated by Beta Offshore, a Long Beach unit of Houston-based Amplify, and spread to a slew of beaches and coastal areas across California’s Orange County
Newport Beach opened back up on Friday, five days after the spill started
Oil covered the Newport Beach sands, which crews worked diligently to clean up in early October
An estuary in Huntington Beach is pictured caked in oil as the clean-up got underway
The rupture was to a pipeline owned by Amplify Energy in federal waters at the Elly oil-rig platform some 4½ miles offshore.
The pipeline runs for 18 miles from Amplify’s offshore drilling platforms to a Long Beach pump station.
It was confirmed that Amplify’s pipeline was damaged and moved for more than 100 feet along the ocean floor, suggesting the ship’s anchor may have caused the damage.
It was initially thought around 144,000 gallons of oil could have leaked from the pipeline but officials determined the amount was far lower – at around 25,000, although there is no firm figure.
The shorelines in Huntington Beach, which is known as ‘Surf City USA,’ and neighboring Newport Beach were shut down for a short time.
Coastal shops ended up taking a hit and environmental advocates have voiced concerns about the long-term impact of the spill on sensitive wetland areas and wildlife.
More than four dozen animals, mostly birds and fish, were found dead in the week after the spill, though not all were visibly oiled.
It’s not known why the leak occurred eight months later rather than at the time of the anchor collision. Authorities also are looking into whether other anchors hit and weakened the pipeline or if a preexisting condition with the line was to blame.
Beaches in Orange County were closed for about a week after the oil spread along the coast
An osprey attempts to take flight after the spill off the coast of Huntington Beach, but is covered with crude oil, hampering its ability to get airborne, pictured in early October
Oil build-up at the barriers were put in place by clean-up crews looking to quell the spread
An aerial photo shows floating barriers – known as booms – set up by clean-up crews after the spill to try to stop further incursion into the Wetlands Talbert Marsh on Orange County’s coast