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Authorities monitoring light sheen spotted off Huntington Beach

KFMB San Diego logo KFMB San Diego 11/21/2021 City News Service
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The U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday it was unable to locate a reported "light sheen" spotted off the coast of Huntington Beach -- in the same region as the October leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean.

The sheen, measuring about 30 by 70 feet, was reported to the Coast Guard about 12:15 p.m., the agency's public information officer said.

"It's right where the other incident occurred," the official added.

The Coast Guard tweeted about 3 p.m. that "No sheen is currently observed by on-water and aerial assets."

Previous syntho-glass wrap was removed from the broken pipeline and new wrap was replaced the Coast Guard said.

"Crews will monitor the line overnight ensuring effectiveness," the Coast Guard said. "The pipeline has remained shut down since the initial incident Oct 2."

The Coast Guard also noted an investigation was ongoing to determine if the previously reported sheen was associated with the damaged pipeline or another source.

The Coast Guard called the sighting a "light sheen, not a slick." Such sheens are often seen when diesel gas is spilled, the Coast Guard said.

Pollution responders, aircraft and boats from a unified command were dispatched to the site to investigate the report, the USCG tweeted. The command included personnel from the Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Huntington Beach Fire Department said it was prepping and will have on standby preventive equipment, as necessary. The department also deployed a safety boat to evaluate the surrounding area.

An underwater pipeline was determined to be the source of the October leak that spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, forcing the closure of beaches and harbors across Orange County.

USCG and National Transportation Safety Board investigators have identified a cargo ship named "Beijing" as a vessel involved in an "anchor- dragging incident" in January that may have contributed to the October leak.

Investigators boarded the vessel Thursday at the Port of Long Beach.

According to the Coast Guard, investigators determined the ship "was involved in a January 25, 2021, anchor-dragging incident during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach." The anchor- dragging occurred "in close proximity" to the underwater pipeline.

Beijing's owner, Capetanissa Maritime Corp. of Liberia, and operator, V.Ships Greece Ltd., have been named "parties in interest" in the investigation, a designation that allows the companies to hire attorneys and examine witnesses in the probe of the spill's cause.

In mid-October, the owner and operator of another ship, the MSC DANIT, were also named "parties in interest" in the investigation, also due to an "anchor-dragging incident" on Jan. 25 near the pipeline.

Authorities said earlier that the underwater pipeline had been dragged out of position, possibly by a ship's anchor. The subsequent rupture in the pipe was discovered at the point where the pipeline had been dragged.

The rupture caused a leak estimated at about 25,000 gallons.

Authorities said the investigation is continuing and "multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest continue to be investigated."

WATCH RELATED: U.S. Coast Guard monitoring San Diego coastline for signs of oil spill (October 2021)

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