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A large oil slick off the coast of Orange County in the USA has started to wash ashore over the weekend affecting wildlife and wetlands. The slick is said to cover some 13 square miles (33 sq km) and is estimated in press reports at about 126,000 gallons (572,807 litres) of heavy crude oil. This is reported to have been caused by an offshore pipe-line breach.

Attempts are being made to contain the spill using booms, whilst divers are at work investigating what exactly happened. Unsurprisingly, there are reports of dead animals and a local ecological reserve, Talbot Marsh, is also said to have already been impacted. The beaches in the area, which is 40 miles south of Los Angeles, are popular with surfers but all shore-based activities have ceased and there are calls for the US President, Joe Biden, to declare it a major disaster. The city and state beaches at Huntington Beach are closed and likewise Laguna Beach.

Three decades ago, the same area was affected by a major oil spill in the same area when on February 7th, 1990, the oil tanker American Trader spilled some 417,000 gallons (541,313 litres) of crude oil and thousands of birds died.

This is a rich wildlife area and OceanCare is very concerned about the likely impacts of this latest spill on the local birds and other animals, as well as the continued threat posed by such spills which happen frequently all across the world. In recent months major spills have also happened in Mauritius as well as in the Mediterranean Sea. These are initially the focus of media interest but soon fall out of public sight whilst still impacting ecosystems and causing the deaths of thousands of marine animals.

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