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An estimated 126,000 gallons of crude oil have been spilled into the Pacific Ocean near Huntington Beach, California. On Saturday, October, 2, it was reported that an oil rig located four and a half miles offshore was responsible for the environmental disaster. Beaches in Huntington, Newport ands Laguna were forced to close as a result.

"Sadly, once the oil is spilled it is too late. As we are again learning in Southern California, once the disaster has occurred we can only try to minimize the damage," said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. "That is why the Surfrider Foundation has consistently opposed new offshore oil drilling and we ask you to join us in that opposition. We need a strong public response to combat special interests that are constantly pressing for more drilling along our precious coastlines."

It was just last week in Huntington that Griffin Colapinto and Caitlin Simmers celebrated their career-best wins at the US Open of Surfing Huntington Beach presented by Shiseido. And now, sadly, surfing, tourism and the areas diverse wildlife are all dramatically affected.

As of press time, the oil spill is now washing up on beaches in northern Orange County as a 13-mile wide oil slick is floating off the coast. On Sunday morning, city officials issued a closure of the beaches from Huntington Beach Pier down to Newport Beach to protect its citizens from the hazardous chemicals in the oil washing up on shore, showing not only ecological but recreational damage.

"The public is discouraged from actively participating in the clean up or trying to save oiled wildlife because the oil is highly toxic and you can cause more harm than good," reads a statement released by Surfrider. "It is imperative that only those with the proper training are involved with the cleanup. Members of the public should not go near the spill, as oil contains dangerous chemicals. The public can help by reporting oil or wildlife sightings and taking photos to document the disaster."

The platform is owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy. According to multiple news reports, they notified the Coast Guard on Saturday morning that a team noticed a sheen in the water while performing a routine line inspection.

The spill is approximately the same size as the one that occurred at Refugio Beach up in Santa Barbara back in 2015. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Huntington has suffered from an oil spill. In 1990, an oil tanker ran over its anchor, puncturing its hull and spilling more than 417,000 gallons of crude oil.

It can take weeks to months in order to assess the actual damage of the spill, but the hazards of offshore oil and gas drilling are already apparent.

To read more about the spill visit www.Surfrider.org.

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