Huntington Beach Oil Sheen Cleanup Continues | Tar Balls | Oiled Wildlife Found

Huntington Beach oil cleanup, tar balls on the sand, wildlife specialist handling an oiled bird

Oil Cleanup Continues in Huntington Beach as Tar Balls and Oiled Wildlife Are Reported

Offshore recovery operations for the oil sheen initially discovered off the coast of Huntington Beach have concluded. Flyovers on Sunday did not reveal any further sheen; however, shoreline cleanup crews remain active due to the ongoing presence of tar balls. Wildlife rescue efforts have confirmed at least two bird fatalities due to oil exposure.

The Unified Command team, consisting of the U.S. Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR), and the Orange County Sheriff's Department, continues to oversee cleanup and investigative efforts.

Tar Ball Removal and Wildlife Impact

Tar balls, ranging in size up to 15 centimeters, continue to wash ashore. Cleanup crews have removed approximately 800 pounds of oily debris. Wildlife teams have located at least three oiled birds: a Brandt's cormorant, a common loon, and a western grebe. The cormorant succumbed to its injuries while in care. An unoiled snowy plover, found injured, also died after capture.

Public Safety Advisories

While no beach closures have been issued, the public is advised to avoid contact with any tar balls and to report sightings of oiled wildlife by calling 1-877-UCD-OWCN (1-877-823-6926). The CDFW-OSPR, in consultation with the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, has indicated no probable public health risk related to fish consumption. However, fishing in areas where sheening is visible is discouraged.

Ongoing Investigation

The cause of the oil sheen remains under active investigation. While initially suspected, a discharge from Platform Elly is now considered unlikely to be connected to the incident, as the properties of the substances do not align.

Huntington Beach Response

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley assessed the situation and noted the swift response compared to past incidents. This improved response is likely due to procedural reforms enacted after the 2021 oil spill near Huntington Beach. The Orange County Health Care Agency has issued health advisories regarding the dangers of crude oil exposure.


The Huntington Beach community continues cleanup and damage assessment following the oil sheen incident.  The reported loss of wildlife underscores the environmental risks posed by oil spills. The ongoing investigation is crucial in determining the source of the spill and implementing preventative measures for the future.

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