Date: Friday, October 8, 2021
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. Coast Guard boarded a German container ship Wednesday as part of its investigation into a major oil spill off the coast of Southern California.
The Coast Guard is looking at ships that were anchored off the coast of Huntington Beach around the time of the incident. The Rotterdam Express was one of eight container ships and two tankers at anchor in the area at the time, according to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
The Coast Guard’s unified command said it couldn’t comment on continuing investigations. “The investigating agency is analyzing electric charting systems from its vessel traffic service to see what ships were anchored or moving over the spill area,” it said.
The Rotterdam Express container ship, which has a capacity of about 4,900 boxes, dropped its anchor Sept. 21 as it was asked, according to a spokesman for the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG.
The ship didn’t move from where it was anchored or pass over the pipeline during the period in question, the spokesman said. It was anchored off Long Beach until going to a berth Oct. 3. The ship left Southern California two days later and arrived in Oakland Oct. 6
The spokesman said the company didn’t have any information about the investigation and referred questions regarding the outcome of the investigation to the U.S. Coast Guard. The spokesman said the company is cooperating with authorities.
Federal officials identified a 13-inch split in a sea bottom pipeline as the likely source of the oil spill. The tear was discovered by commercial divers who found 4,000 feet of the 17.7-mile pipeline from an oil-processing platform were displaced as much as 105 feet, Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore said earlier this week.
An investigation into the cause of the rupture, where as many as 130,000 gallons were discovered spilled Saturday, remains under way. Martyn Willsher, chief executive of Amplify Energy Corp., which operated the offshore oil platform connected to the leak, said Monday it was a possibility that the spill was caused by an anchor hitting the pipeline.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday to investigate the spill with transparency and to take regulatory, statutory and technological steps to make sure something similar doesn’t happen again.
Hundreds of people have been working on cleanup efforts. Dead birds and fish have washed up near California beaches.