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NOAA Supporting Oil Spill off Newport Beach, California

OCT. 4, 2021 — At 8:40 am local time on October 2, 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard contacted NOAA regarding an unknown sheen in the waters off Huntington Beach, California. Roughly 45 minutes later, NOAA captured satellite imagery that became the basis for a Marine Pollution Surveillance Report, issued the same day by the Satellite Analysis Branch of NESDIS (NOAA Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service). The report showed oil slicks extending for more than 30 miles along the coast. 

Woman looking out the window of a plane.
Capt. Rebecca Ore, commanding officer of Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, assesses water and shoreline impacts along the Orange County coast, Oct. 3, 2021. Image credit: USCG.

U.S. Coast Guard field teams investigating the information observed black oil roughly 3.25 nautical miles offshore and requested NOAA support in mapping the trajectory of the oil.

NOAA is engaged in multiple ways:

The NOAA National Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration is providing scientific support, including modeling, as well as on-scene presence, shifting from virtual to in-person beginning October 4, 2021. 

NOAA’s National Ocean Service is also engaged with trustees on injury assessment for Natural Resource Damage Assessment

NOAA Fisheries is supporting the response effort by working with local partners on the recovery and rehabilitation of any oil-impacted marine mammals and sea turtles. NOAA Fisheries also supports the U.S. Coast Guard and all responders by assessing the impacts of response activities on threatened and endangered species.

NOAA Satellites Marine Pollution Surveillance Reports are providing synoptic views of surface oil. 

NOAA’s National Weather Service forecasts are supporting the response, including scientific support products. (NOAA wind forecast data and currents, from a combination of high frequency radar observations and models, are driving NOAA National Ocean Service modeling.)

A Unified Command, composed the Coast Guard, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR) has been established. 

More information is available in the Coast Guard's Update 1 and the Public Affairs Detachment San Diego news page.

(Correction made to Unified Command composition: Oct. 6, 2021.)

Last updated Friday, October 15, 2021 1:26pm PDT