California oil spill endangers wildlife
Headway made in cleanup
September 30, 1997
Web posted at: 1:03 p.m. EDT (1703 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- An oil spill caused by a leak in an
offshore platform's undersea pipeline has killed at least one
bird, but should be cleaned up within 72 hours, officials
The spill discovered Monday in the Pacific Ocean, a half-mile
from the central California coast at its closest point, was
four miles by two miles.
The U.S. Coast Guard estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 gallons
of heavy crude oil had leaked from the pipeline starting
Sunday, less than originally thought. Initial reports
indicated that up to 121,000 gallons -- the amount of oil in
the pipeline at the time -- may have leaked.
Estimates of the amount of oil spilled varied greatly,
because the crude was mixed with water before going through
The oil escaped through a crack in a flange connecting two
pieces of pipe, said Art Boehm, a spokesman for Torch
Operating Co., which operates Platform Irene for Nuevo Energy
Co. of Houston. It was not immediately known what caused the
crack. The pipe was inspected and found in good condition in
July, Boehm said.
The pipeline, linking an oil-pumping platform off Point
Arguello to an oil field in Lompoc, California, was shut down
after a low pressure alarm sounded.
Endangered species frequent area of spill
The coastal area north of Los Angeles falls within the
boundaries of Vandenberg Air Force Base, which takes up 35
miles of coastline and 98,400 acres. The coast is home to
several endangered species, including western snowy plovers,
least terns, brown pelicans and sea otters.
Officials from Vandenberg are concerned about some of the
wildlife on the base and the potential environmental impact,
according to Lt. Carole Kanode.
One of nine oiled birds found on the beach had died. The
condition of the others was not immediately known. About a
half dozen birds had been spotted in the slick.