Orange County Oil Spill Resources

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Orange County Oil Spill Litigation

The October 2 Orange County oil spill closed Orange County beaches for days and shut off access to the water for more than a week. When Huntington Beach officials announced that their beaches were reopening on October 11, it marked the end of the longest beach closure over the spill.

In all, the Orange County oil spill dumped up to 131,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean and onto the shores of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and other nearby county and state beaches.

A fishing advisory went into effect as well, and officials put out several statements advising the public to stay away from the waters and avoid coming into contact with tar balls washing up onshore or with oil-soaked birds and wildlife, due to the highly toxic nature of the oil.

Find more Orange County oil spill resources and read the full timeline of events related to the spill below or learn about our Orange County oil spill lawsuit.

Closed beach after oil spill

What are the symptoms of exposure to oil?

Exposure to oil toxins can cause symptoms that are incredibly harmful and severe. According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, some of the common symptoms of excessive exposure to oil or dispersants include:

  • Skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Cough or shortness of breath

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after contacting oil or inhaling oil vapors, contact a medical professional immediately.

How Do Oil Spills Impact the Environment?

In April 2020, nearly 10 years after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout that killed 11 people and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Oceana released a report detailing the long-term effects of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The study found that the BP spill was actually 30% larger than previously estimated, according to new research which showed satellite data used to monitor the size of the spill “missed the full scope of the disaster.”

The full report also examines how the impacts of the disaster are still being felt today, and whether the government and industry’s “approach to offshore drilling” changed as a result.

How does oil impact marine life?

According to the National Ocean Service, oil spills are very harmful to marine birds, mammals, fish, and shellfish. 

Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals and the water repellency of bird’s feathers and traps sea turtles who mistake it for food. It also harms dolphins and whales who inhale it, affecting respiration, immune function, and reproduction. Furthermore, birds ingest it when trying to clean it off of themselves, which can poison them.

Even marine life that isn’t exposed immediately can be exposed when oil is mixed into the water column, with lethal and sublethal impacts. Furthermore, “even when lethal impacts are not observed, oil can make fish and shellfish unsafe for humans to eat.”

Orange County Oil Spill Cleanup

Unified Command Response

The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the coordination of agencies in response to the Orange County oil spill. The unified command also includes Amplify Energy and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Get more information about the unified command response to the Orange County oil spill.

Public Volunteer Information

Officials have asked the public not to assist with the cleanup process in oiled areas, as oil is highly toxic and untrained volunteers can make the situation worse.

Trained spill response contractors have been tasked with cleaning up the oil, though volunteers may be needed at some point. Get more information about the cleanup efforts and volunteering to help.

Anyone who observes or encounters oiled wildlife is being advised to avoid contact and call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-823-6926.

Orange County Oil Spill Timeline

October 11, 2021 — Remaining closed Orange County beaches reopen

On October 11, after more than a week of beaches not being fully open to the public, Huntington Beach announced the reopening of both City and State beaches, after water quality testing results in coastal ocean water and wetlands showed non-detectable amounts of oil-associated toxins.

An independent contractor surveyed 40 different sites along the coast and wetlands after the Huntington Beach oil spill, and detected oil at only one location — at a non-toxic level — just north of Warner Avenue.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said in a statement:

“The health & safety of our residents & visitors is of the utmost importance. We understand the significance our beaches have on tourism, our economy, and our overall livelihood here in Huntington Beach.”

She continued, “It is important that our decision to reopen our shoreline & water be based on data & that we continue to monitor the water quality going forward.”

Water quality testing will continue twice a week for at least the next two weeks, and beachgoers are advised to avoid areas where the oil spill is present, or where tarballs and other oiled materials have washed onto the beach.

The city advises any individuals who see tar balls on the beach to contact beach clean-up teams at

October 11, 2021 — California opens investigation into Orange County oil spill

On October 11, the State of California opened a formal investigation into the cause of the Orange County oil spill, according to an announcement by state Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Bonta said, “We’re prepared to do what is necessary to get a full accounting of what happened, how it happened, who did what, when, and fully reveal the facts and circumstances of this incident.”

October 8, 2021 — Orange County beaches reopen sand areas

On October 8, some Orange County beaches reopened their sand areas, even as access to the water remained off-limits. Huntington City Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington State Beach, Newport Beach, and Crystal Cove State Beach all reopened sand areas, as well as Aliso Beach, Laguna Royale Beach, Table Rock Beach, Thousand Steps Beach, and West Street Beach.

The day before, Salt Creek beach, Strands Beach, and Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor were also back to being open to the public.

October 7, 2021 — Private firm hired to test water quality after Orange County oil spill

A private engineering contracting firm, Moffat & Nichol, was hired to test water quality at state parks and beaches, as well as Huntington City Beach, to determine when it will be safe for the public to reenter the water.

Meanwhile, beaches in Dana Point lifted restrictions, while keeping water quality advisory signs posted along the shore.

October 5, 2021 — California Department of Fish and Wildlife issues fishing advisory

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife amended a fishing ban for the area issued on October 3, to extend as far south as San Clemente and Camp Pendleton, at the recommendation of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

October 5, 2021 — Singleton Schreiber announces oil spill litigation partnership with Herman, Herman & Katz

Singleton Schreiber announced a partnership on October 5 with expert oil spill attorneys Herman, Herman & Katz for the firm’s Orange County oil spill lawsuit.

Herman, Herman & Katz partner Steve Herman was appointed by the court overseeing all litigation for the infamous 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to serve as Co-Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs. Herman led the charge to hold BP accountable for failures that led to the incident as a representative for all businesses, individuals, and local governments involved.

October 4, 2021 — First oil spill class action lawsuit filed

On October 4, the first Orange County oil spill class action case was filed by a local Huntington Beach DJ, Peter Moses Guitierrez, Jr., who sued Amplify Energy for its role in the spill, saying he “will lose a substantial amount of his DJ business as a result of the Defendants’ oil spill.”

The suit also claimed health damage from the oil spill, due to exposure to toxins from the oil.

October 4, 2021 — Orange County Supervisor releases statement about the oil spill

On October 4, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley issued a statement about the spill, saying:

We are deeply concerned by this weekend’s major oil spill along our beautiful Orange County coastline. The ramifications will extend further than the visible oil and odor that our residents are dealing with at the moment. The impact to the environment is irreversible. We must identify the cause of the spill, and for the greater good of our cities, beaches, and coastal ecological habitat we need to understand how to prevent these incidents moving forward.”

October 4, 2021 — Governor Gavin Newsom declares state of emergency after Orange County oil spill

Two days after the Huntington Beach oil spill, as news of the size and impact of the spill was still being determined, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared an official state of emergency in Orange County to “support the emergency response to the oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach that originated in federal waters.”

October 4, 2021 — Orange County closes beaches after the oil spill

Orange County closed the beaches at Newport Beach Harbor and Bayside Beach, saying that boats would “not be allowed to enter or exit Newport Beach Harbor at this time. Impacted boaters are requested to go to Huntington Beach Harbor or Long Beach Harbor.”

No timeline was set for the reopening of Newport Beach Harbor, and boaters were advised to make preparations for subsequent closures to the south.

The same day, the county also announced closures of all beaches in the City of Laguna Beach.

October 3, 2021 — Audubon California releases statement on Huntington Beach oil spill

On October 3, in an Audubon California press release, executive director Sarah Rose condemned the Huntington Beach oil spill and the oil industry’s continued actions that are “putting our coastal birds and communities at risk.”

As Rose said in the statement, “This spill — in virtually the same spot as a devastating 1990 spill — is a reminder that petroleum and water are a dangerous mix along California’s precious coast and that continued reliance on oil kills birds and other wildlife, threatens our public health, and harms local economies and recreational opportunities.”

Learn more about the 1990 Huntington Beach spills or some of the other largest oil spills in California History.

October 3, 2021 — Orange County issues health advisory after the oil spill

The day after the Orange County oil spill, the county issued an official health advisory “to recommend those who may have encountered the contaminated materials to seek medical attention.”

The advisory states:

“The effects of oil spills on humans may be direct and indirect, depending on the type of contact with the oil spill… An initial irritation will be obvious. Additionally, contaminants may be absorbed through the skin. Even when an oil sheen may not be visible, dispersed and dissolved oil contaminants may be absorbed through the skin.”

The agency advised residents “to please refrain from participating in recreational activities on the coastline such as swimming, surfing, biking, walking, exercising, gathering, etc.”

October 2, 2021 — Amplify Energy oil spill occurs off the coast of Huntington Beach

A pipeline owned by Amplify Energy — and operated by Amplify subsidiary Beta Offshore — that was running between an Amplify platform and the coast of Long Beach to the north, spilled up to 131,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, approximately four miles off the coast.

According to an October 4 press release issued by Amplify Energy, the Coast Guard was notified on October 2, and the company’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Plan was initiated, in which the source of the release was investigated and all production and pipeline operations at the Beta Field were shut down.

While early estimates by officials said the spill could have been as large as 144,000 gallons, this estimate was scaled back to a maximum of 131,000 gallons the following week.

Compensation for the Orange County Oil Spill

If your business has been impacted by the Orange County oil spill or if you have been exposed to harmful toxins because of the spill, contact the expert Orange County oil spill attorneys at Singleton Schreiber today to discuss how you can receive compensation.

Our experienced toxic environmental mass tort lawyers will fight for all victims of the Huntington Beach oil spill until they receive all compensation they deserve and are able to move on with their lives. Contact Singleton Schreiber for a free consultation today.