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“Surf City” crashes after a leak in a California oil pipeline

Posted on Thursday 07 October 2021 at 07:44

Shawna Sakal, manager of a specialty store on Huntington Beach south of Los Angeles, said: “It’s weird not to see any surfers on the horizon.

Normally the water would be black with athletes in wet suits but on Sunday it was covered with a crude oil, thus covering the beach miles.

Fortunately, California officials estimate that the oil spill, which was partially contained by floating dams, could reach 500,000 liters of crude, escaping from a nearby oil pipeline.

The cause of the incident has not yet been determined but an underwater inspection revealed that a large portion of the pipe had been moved to the bottom of the water, and that there were about three inches of tears in the pipe.

An investigation is underway to determine whether a cargo ship waiting for mooring port did not attach the pipe to its anchor.

“We pulled the pipe like a bow string,” said Martin Wilsher, owner of Texas Amplify Energy, which operates the Tempsas pipeline and neighboring oil bases.

Since the beginning of the disaster, several hundred people have rallied to clean up the famous Huntington Beach, known as the “Surf City” and have become famous enough to appear in a beach boys’ song.

“Throughout the year, especially around Pantone, people are always browsing here,” Ms Sakal told AFP, sadly pointing to the deserted sand near her shop.

“Even during epidemics, when they try to stop surfers from getting there, they don’t care, they’re still going to ride the wave,” he recalled.

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– October, the best month –

The economy of the city largely depends on water sports and tourism. Shops selling or renting surf equipment follow each other across the ocean, now alternating with surf schools with doors closed.

“This accident creates a terrible situation and it annoys me,” Loose Chuck Lyons said. The 20-year-old blonde man, who hails from Huntington Beach, says he learned to browse before walking.

At Huntington Beach, surfing is not just a sport or a pastime, for many it is a way of life and a place to meet friends.

“We don’t text each other, we see each other on the beach,” said 18-year-old Jack McNerney. When Jack’s friend wakes up he gets used to watching the wind and the waves and goes for a walk if the conditions are right.

The oil spill also affects the overall tourism sector in the region. Despite the blue sky and de ricor palm trees, shops and restaurants were almost empty Wednesday afternoon.

“We lost half of our recipes,” says Shawna Sakal, whose father has been selling boards he has made in the family shop for fifty years.

“October is the best month for surfers and locals. The weather is great and a lot of people go to the beach on the weekends, but now with the oil spill it’s not possible,” he explains.

Normally, at least five to ten customers come in every weekday, but Connor Waltrin, a board rental store employee, confirms that “nothing now”.

Local schools had to modify many things, including browsing the curriculum.

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“We started the competition season before the oil spill,” says Lisa Pattik of Fountain Valley School, a few minutes walk from the beach.

“We will stay out of the water until the authorities say so. Until then we will train on the ground (…). We will also try to browse outside the area affected by the pollution,” the author explains.