Petroleum is regularly shipped in tankers that are often old and rusted. Presumably, the spill originated either from a tanker with a massive leak in its holding tank or from some unknown entity or persons who deliberately dumped unwanted oil into the channel. It may also have leached into the water from a land-based holding facility.
The oil slick is currently being contained and did not reach the Talbert wetlands or the ocean, according to Robert Wise, the on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Reports of an odor resembling petroleum first caught the EPA's attention on January 21. A day later public works crews from Orange County located the spill in the Huntington Beach Channel east of Beach Boulevard and south of Adams Avenue in the flood-control channel.
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The oil traveled approximately 1.8 miles downstream before authorities began to contain and eradicate the spill. A contractor hired by Orange County is cleaning up the spill by placing containment barriers in the 50-foot-wide, steel-lined channel and using vacuum trucks, absorbent materials and power washers. So far, Wise said, crews have removed about one-eighth of the oil.
The cleanup is expected to take about three weeks.
While containment efforts have become increasingly modernized and effective in recent years, oil accidents pose a significant danger to wetlands, wildlife and anything that depends on a natural water supply for sustainment. An oil slick in sea water can also have a negative impact on real estate values in a populated area.