An underwater pipeline leak off the coast of Huntington Beach, California, has sent tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean impacting wildlife and the environment and leaving many wondering: How can I help?
Huntington Beach Oil Spill
What are the effects of the oil spill so far?
The oil spill about four miles offshore is covering an area about the size of Santa Monica, though the oil sheens have been detected as far south as Dana Point. It could flow even further south, according to the Coast Guard.
All beaches from Huntington Beach south to Laguna Beach are closed. The closures might last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The spill is threatening marshlands, and the Santa Ana River Trail, while the nearby Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands may be affected as well.
At least four birds covered in oil have been recovered by wildlife officials. One of those birds, a brown pelican, was euthanized due to injuries. Other birds were transported to wildlife care centers for treatment.
The oil could also have an effect on whales, dolphins and other sea creatures.
How can I help?
Trained and Public Volunteers
As of Wednesday morning, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says they are registering public volunteers, in addition to utilizing trained volunteers who have experience with oil spill responses.
That's an update from the initial cleanup phase, when the CDFW requested that "members of the public stay away from the area," and response organizations said that untrained help could be hazardous to the public's health because of chemicals found in the oil.
If you would like to register to help, fill out a volunteer form here to be considered.
There are also other ways to help.
The Surfrider Foundation created a sign-up list of volunteers for when the time came that untrained help is needed. If you're interested in being added to the list, text "oilspill" to 51555 or fill out this form.
You can also help organizations that are helping wildlife through donations.
The Huntington Beach Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) is working in coordination with the CDFW and a network of wildlife organizations to rehabilitate animals injured by the oil spill.
"Completed in March 1997, the WWCC was designed to care for up to 400 oiled birds in the event of a spill in Southern California. Our 2,625 square-foot Butler building contains areas for bird intake, holding, washing, drying, and recovery, as well as a series of six large and four small pens with pools for bird recovery," the wildlife center says.
CDFW set up the Oiled Wildlife Care Network hotline, at 877-823-6926, for people to call if they see wildlife impacted from the oil.
Members of the public were urged not to approach any animals themselves.