HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (CNS) — Some of the oil-slicked wildlife from the Huntington Beach oil spill that were saved and cleaned were released back into the wild Wednesday.
"We've worked so hard and to see oiled little guys and see them all clean and back to normal and back to their environment, it's absolutely what it's all about," said Debbie McGuire of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, which has served as a triage point for the injured birds.
Officials released a ruddy duck that was recovered on the first day of the spill as well as a Clark's Grebe bird, McGuire said.
It appears the flow of injured birds and fish is slowing, McGuire said.
"We're still getting a trickle of oiled birds coming in," McGuire said.
More than 80 birds and fish affected by oil from a pipeline leak off the shores of Huntington Beach have been recovered, with more than half dying, officials said.
A total 73 birds were recovered, with 45 dying, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network reported Tuesday. Nine dead fish have also been recovered.
The Unified Command responding to the leak is headed by the U.S. Coast Guard and also includes officials from Orange County, San Diego County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Amplify Energy Corp.
The Unified Command deployed five shoreline assessment teams early Tuesday morning to survey the Orange County beaches and three cleanup teams were sent to San Diego county coastlines.
The leak was reported on the morning of Oct. 2 a few miles off the Huntington Beach coast, although some boaters reported smelling something in the water on Oct. 1.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore estimated Thursday that roughly 588 barrels of oil had spilled, which would equate to about 24,700 gallons. That's being considered a minimum amount leaked, with officials estimating a maximum potential of around 130,000 gallons.
The cause of the spill remains under investigation.
The spill occurred in federal waters at the Elly oil-rig platform, built to process crude oil from two other platforms, which draw from a large reservoir called Beta Field. Elly is one of three platforms operated by Beta Operating Co., which is owned by Amplify Energy and also operates Ellen and Eureka nearby. Elly processes oil production from Ellen and Eureka and is fed by some 70 oil wells. The processing platform separates oil from water.
Elly is one of 23 oil and gas platforms installed in federal waters off the Southern California coast, according to the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Besides Elly, a processing facility, there are 20 others that produce oil and gas, and two are being decommissioned.