OC oil spill response ramps up as questions swirl

A clean-up worker disposes a shovel full of oil-contaminated sand off the Newport Beach Pier shoreline on Oct. 6.

Upwards of 130,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled onto the Southern California coastline on Oct. 1. Approximately six miles of coastline have been affected by this ecological disaster. In response to this unfortunate event, many people are wondering what they can do to help. 

In terms of physically volunteering, organizations are currently only utilizing pre-trained and affiliated volunteers. However, the California Department of Wildlife has begun the process of registering interested volunteers. 


At a press conference held at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands on Oct. 6, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley encouraged people to register for volunteer opportunities. “We need all hands on deck to clean up our beautiful coast,” she said.  

Requirements for those interested include the capability to lift 25 pounds, being 18 years of age or older and properly following County Public Health COVID-19 procedures. All volunteers will be required to complete a training course. 

Surfrider, a non-profit organization that helps organize beach cleanups, is advising the general public to avoid the beaches at this time. When it becomes safe for the public to volunteer, Surfrider plans to organize clean-up events. People interested in volunteering at these events are encouraged to submit their contact information. To stay updated on future events and for ways to help, text OILSPILL to 51555. 

Clean up efforts are not the only way to help lessen the impact of this disaster. Many organizations are in dire need of donations. 

The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is accepting donations to aid in animal rescue efforts. Priority items needed include: nitrile gloves of all sizes, N95 Masks, Tyvek suits, feeding syringes (sizes 60cc, 120cc, and 240cc), small red rubber feeding tubes and collapsible plastic or cardboard carrying cases. 

Supplies can be dropped off at the Bolsa Chica Conservancy located at 3842 Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional drop off areas include the Pacific Marine Mammal Center at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Monetary donations can also be made to the Wetlands and Wildcare Center. This local non-profit organization is helping to care for the affected wildlife. 

Aside from volunteering and donating, there are still many ways to help. 

Clayton Chau, the director of OC’s Public Health Care Agency, asked that the public steer clear of the beach, including participating in recreational activities on the coastline such as swimming, surfing, biking, walking, exercising, gathering, etc. 

Chau said that the effects of oil spills can be both direct and indirect. Spilled oil can travel through wind and aerosol, so it is best to distance oneself from the affected areas. 

If you spot an oiled-covered animal, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network ask for you to not get physically involved, and instead call them at 1-877-UCD-OWCN. 

For more information on oil spill clean up, visit the Surfrider website.

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