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Storm causes havoc at Southern California harbors

December 22, 2010 |  4:32 pm

The driving rain and buffeting winds wreaked havoc Wednesday at Southern California harbors, ripping boats from their moorings, swamping vessels and causing a small oil spill in the Dominguez Channel, officials said.

In Wilmington, rain caused oil collection areas to overflow after a small pipeline ruptured, sending up to about 50 gallons into Dominguez Channel, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

"It just dissipated out very quickly," said Lt. Sean Arumae, adding that the spill was quickly contained. The incident is under investigation by federal authorities.

Heavy winds tore two commercial barges from their moorings in San Pedro Bay, causing one to nearly float into a railroad bridge before it was towed by rescue craft. One of the barges carried equipment, and the other was empty, officials said.

Rains swamped motor vessels in the Cabrillo Marina and in Long Beach, the Coast Guard said.

In Santa Barbara, meanwhile, crews removed 70 gallons of diesel fuel from a 50-foot sailboat that had washed onto the shore at East Beach, officials said. The boat was still on the shore Wednesday afternoon as the Coast Guard tried to locate the owner.

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Sailboat washing up at Santa Barbara. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Safety Detachment