The Orange County Oil Spill Fallout

If your business has suffered damages due to the oil spill, contact us today.

The waters off the coast of Southern California are teeming with marine life. Orange County is made up of a number of fishing communities, with the Pacific Ocean yielding lobster, crab, squid, and various fish. Above the ocean, the piers and shorelines are rife with tourists and locals enjoying the idyllic weather and views. 

The ocean offers sustenance and recreation, but only when it is healthy. In early October, the oil spill at Huntington Beach endangered the local wildlife, tourism industry, and residents. 


On October 2, 2021, Amplify Energy’s San Pedro Bay Pipeline developed a rupture, resulting in a release of crude oil into the San Pedro Bay, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Initial estimates had as many as 144,000 gallons of oil leaking into the ocean, but a major containment operation is ongoing and the actual size of the spill remains under investigation. Businesses in the area that rely upon access to the Pacific Ocean are currently shut down. While reports indicate that the spill was likely a result of a ruptured pipeline off the shore, the root cause remains unclear.

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The clean-up effort continues with more than 1,300 people contributing to the effort. So far, crews have collected 13.5 barrels of tar balls and roughly 192,500 pounds of “oily debris.” 


The coastal areas around the spill are dependent upon the ocean to sustain their business. Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City USA.” Nearly 47 surf shops, including Roxy and Quicksilver, call this stretch of the beach home. Late fall and winter are prime surfing conditions, and surf schools and suppliers are often booked solid. Business owners are taking the brunt of the spill. Beaches up and down the coast were partially or fully closed; the spill has taken an enormous toll on the local economy. Some businesses are estimating that they will lose up to $20,000 this month alone. Those affected include surf shops, restaurants, charter boats, and commercial fisheries. 

Commercial fishing season for lobsters saw their opening day halted due to the spill. Some fisherman had $1,000 worth of bait rotting as the harbors closed. Other fishermen have their entire futures wrapped up in slip fees, insurance, overhead, and boat maintenance and without this lobster season, their future is uncertain. 

The economic impact cannot be diminished, but the environmental fallout will plague the coast for years. The biggest area of concern is what is happening below the surface. Deepwater corals can be smothered by crude oil which are a critical food source for blue whales. Additionally, fish can ingest the oil resulting in the toxins traveling up the food chain.

At this time, oil has entered three marshes near the beach, but damage has been minimized by rapidly erected barriers. Sadly, the true environmental impact of the oil spill remains unknown.

Residents are discouraged from trying to rescue any animals that are oiled. Instead, report any injured wildlife by calling 877.823.6926 or 877.UCD.OWCN. 


Marine life is not the only victim of the oil spill. The Orange County Health Care Agency issued a health advisory for residents that may have been potentially exposed. 

Possible side effects from excessive exposure to the oil or dispersants include:

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

Residents of the impacted areas are encouraged to avoid swimming, surfing, biking, walking, exercising, or participating in any recreational activities along the coast.

Anyone interested in volunteering can find more details here or by calling 800.228.4544.


If you or your business has been impacted by this devastating spill, our oil spill lawyers are here to help. Please contact our firm by completing the form below if the above or a similar situation applies to you, or if you would like to learn more about our investigation.

Any information you provide to us will be kept strictly confidential as provided by law.