The pipeline that leaked more than 550,000 litres of oil into the water off Southern California was split open and apparently dragged along the ocean floor, according to state authorities.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore said Tuesday that divers determined about 1,219 metres of the pipeline were “laterally displaced” by about 32 metres. She did not say what might have caused the displacement.
Officials said Monday that they were considering whether a ship’s anchor might have caused the oil spill that was first spotted Saturday morning and has fouled beaches in Orange County. There was no confirmation Tuesday that the leak was caused by an anchor.
The pipeline, operated by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation, had a 13-inch gash in it, Ore said.
Since Saturday morning, an estimated 572,800 litres of oil, or 3,000 barrels, has leaked, forming a slick in the ocean that covered an area of about 20 square kilometres, according to Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr.
The slick affects Huntington Beach, a city about 65 kilometres south of Los Angeles, as well as neighbouring Newport Beach.
WATCH | California officials describe effects of massive oil spill: