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San Diego County officials share measures for oil spill moving south

California Oil Spill
Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 20:21:50-04

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — The US Coast Guard in Orange County stated as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, that no oil has crossed into San Diego County.

However local officials said they will still be cautious and work to find solutions to make sure the oil does not harm our beaches.

"I'm hoping that it won't really spread all over the beaches," said beach-goer Janet Acosta. "So it will not affect the people around here, the environment."

Those enjoying the sun and sand, know that just a few miles north lies thousands of miles of spilled oil.

"If we go surfing are we going to find tar?" asked surfer Michael DeWitt. It's a question he has had since learning of reports of oil making its way to San Diego County shores.

"I hope they get it all cleaned up and next time shut down the system quicker so this doesn't happen," DeWitt added.

"We know having oil spill onto our coast will cause mass destruction," said Mayor of Encinitas Catherine Blakespear.

Blakespear said that Wednesday, she heard of oil being spotted along our coast.

"It is inevitable that some will hit this county and I have already heard of what's called sheening in the Oceanside harbor," she said. "The question is how much and how quickly does it get here?"

According to Surfrider Foundation CEO, Chad Nelsen, it could still be a few more days before we see it this far south.

"There's definitely a reason to keep an eye out and there's definitely reason for concern," Nelsen said.

The US Coast Guard said in their Wednesday update that so far no oil has crossed into county lines, but they are anticipating southward and inland movement.

Local leaders are worried if oil does force closures, the impact that would be had on those that depend on beach foot traffic, "Our clean beaches, our clean oceans, our clean food supply all of that is really critical to us. And businesses and the business community depend upon that."

Blakespear said that she believed that spills like this are inevitable when we continue to drill for oil. She hoped that this was the example needed to take legislative action in hindering any new drilling off our shores.

Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority issued the following joint statement:

“The oil spill has not affected the operations of the Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The facility is San Diego County’s largest single source of locally produced drinking water, generating nearly 80 billion gallons of drought-proof water since operations started in December 2015.

Water quality in Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon – the desalination plant’s intake source – is continually monitored for more than a half-dozen seawater parameters, including oil-in-water concentration. Per State of California requirements in the facility’s drinking water permit, the desalination plant will shut down if the hydrocarbon concentration of source seawater reaches 300 parts per billion. While there has been no indication of oil from Orange County reaching Carlsbad, the facility’s operating team will continue to closely monitor intake water quality.

In addition, Poseidon Water and the Water Authority are working with local, state, and federal agencies to assess potential preemptive actions in case conditions change, including installation of a floating boom at the mouth of the lagoon. That would protect the lagoon for marine life and ensure the desalination plant can stay online, which minimizes the San Diego region’s demands on other water resources.”

Oceanside Fire Department has its Emergency Operations Unit at the ready. Division Chief Oceanside Fire Dept, Peter Lawrence, said they are protecting waterways inside the harbor to make sure oil stays out. They also created more slip spaces for boats that could no longer park in closed harbors.

"We are fortunate that this time of year we have a south swell," Lawrence said. "So it should hopefully keep it from entering very far into San Diego County."

Officials said that the oil's southward movement has slowed, but shared that they are prepared nonetheless.

The Director of San Diego Counties Emergency Services, Jeff Toney, along with Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Nathan Fletcher, released this statement:

“Our County’s Office of Emergency Services is in ongoing communication with the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the entire Unified Command as we monitor the oil spill off the shores of Orange County. The Unified Command maintains detailed contingency plans to meet the evolving situation and the agencies are collaborating to jointly implement these plans as needed.

It appears some of the oil is making its way south, but it has yet to enter San Diego County waters. Some protective measures have been put in place by response agencies including a protective boom at the mouth of the Santa Margarita River on Camp Pendleton. Right now there is no immediate threat to San Diego County, but our team is prepared for the possibility of oil making its way towards our watersheds, onto our beaches, and affecting local fish, wildlife and ecosystems."

Chief Lawrence added, "It's something that is always in the back of your mind when you are an ocean community."

Oceanside warned beach-goers who may see the hazardous contamination to report it. Chief Lawrence said it allows authorities to secure and clean the area.

"We would ensure that the quality of the clean-up efforts was meeting the city's expectations," he added.