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672-gallon oil spill fouls Huntington Beach channel

January 27, 2010 |  6:15 pm

Crews are working to clean up an oil spill that dumped an estimated 672 gallons of crude oil last week into a Huntington Beach flood-control channel that drains to wetlands and the Pacific Ocean, authorities said today.

After getting reports of a petroleum odor Jan. 21, the Orange County Public Works crews a day later discovered the spill in the Huntington Beach Channel east of Beach Boulevard and south of Adams Avenue, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There was oil all the way across the channel from wall to wall," said Robert Wise, Federal On-Scene Coordinator with the EPA. "As the tide went in and out it just sloshed the oil up and down the walls of the channel."

The oil traveled 1.8 miles downstream, but it did not reach the Talbert wetlands or the ocean, Wise said.

A contractor hired by the county is cleaning up the spill by placing containment barriers in the 50-foot wide, steel-lined channel and using vacuum trucks, absorbent materials and power washers to remove the oil.

So far, Wise said, crews have recovered about one-eighth of the oil. The cleanup is expected to take about three weeks.

For updates on the cleanup, check the EPA's website at www.epaosc.org/hboil.

To report any animals with oil on them, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Center at (877) UCD-OWCN.

--Tony Barboza in Orange County

Photo: Oil sticks to a pipe and flows down the Talbert Channel near Atlanta Avenue in Huntington Beach. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times