Beach closure sign after the large oil spill off Huntington Beach in October 2021. Please credit: Wendy Leung / Center for Biological Diversity. 

Two Pipeline Ruptures in 2021 Underscore Offshore Drilling’s Dangers

February 17, 2022

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.— Eight conservation groups asked California officials today to reject plans to repair and restart a broken pipeline that caused a December oil spill in coastal waters off Orange County.

Today’s letter to the State Lands Commission and Cal Fire urges the retirement and decommissioning of DCOR’s pipeline 0919, which runs from Platform Eva through state waters to shore. The State Lands Commission is considering plans to restart the pipeline.

“Allowing this leaky pipeline to start pumping oil again would create an unacceptable and totally unnecessary risk for California’s coastal communities and wildlife,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the letter author and director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Oceans program. “The State Lands Commission needs to shut down California’s rickety offshore oil drilling. It’s infuriating that oil companies suck out the profits and pollute the coast while state officials continue to bow to the industry.”

A crack in Pipeline 0919 caused a December oil spill near Bolsa Chica State Beach. The state has confirmed that the imminent pollution threat has been abated because the pipeline has been clamped and purged of oil, but officials could authorize it to resume operations.

That December spill followed a larger incident in which a pipeline that runs from Platform Elly near Huntington Beach to shore ruptured in federal waters in October 2021. That rupture spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean.

Today’s letter notes the risk of more oil spills, the danger of aging offshore oil infrastructure, and that continued drilling runs counter to the state’s climate goals as reasons to block the restart of the offshore oil pipeline. The groups note that that Platform Eva and the pipeline to shore were installed off Huntington Beach in 1963 and have persisted for nearly 60 years.

Their letter states that “the State Lands Commission acknowledged that spills happen and determined that the risk of a spill more than doubles as a pipeline ages from 20 to 40 years.” The conservation groups request a full examination of the impacts of restarting the pipeline and that the State Lands Commission consider alternatives, including decommissioning.

In 2015 a Plains All American pipeline ruptured and spilled up to 142,000 gallons of oil on the Santa Barbara coastline.

A Center analysis found that nearly 1,400 oil and gas pipeline leaks, spills and other incidents in the Golden State since 1986 have caused at least $1.2 billion in damages, as well as 230 injuries and 53 deaths.

time-lapse video informed by the analysis maps every significant pipeline incident in California — along with their financial costs and toll in injuries and deaths — from 1986 to July 2021. On average California has suffered 40 significant pipeline incidents a year, according to federal data.

Today’s letter was signed by the Center, Surfrider Foundation, Environment America, Environment California, Friends of the Earth, Heal the Bay, Climate First Replacing Oil & Gas, and Ocean Conservation Research.

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