Crude is working to clean up the weekend spills that have soaked the beach in crude oil and sent thousands of liters into the sea.
U.S. officials are investigating a 41-year-old pipeline that spilled oil off the southern coast of California, killing wildlife and tarnishing much of the coast.
The weekend spill – one of the largest in the state – sent 570,000 liters (126,000 gallons) of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean and destroyed Huntington Beach sand and other coastal community wetlands.
Officials say the snatch could keep the beach closed for weeks or even months, as clean-cut workers wearing white clothes and helmets worked on the beach and wetland running inland from the sea on the east side of the coastal highway on Monday.
Birds covered in oil are washed ashore with dead fish.
Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Huntington Beach, k5 kilometers (miles0 miles) south of Los Angeles, that “in many places the beaches are covered with thick tar-like oil spots.”
Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said about 1 square kilometer (1 square mile) of ocean and parts of the city’s coastline were “covered with oil.”
The leak was caused on Monday by officials investigating whether a ship’s anchor on the seabed could hit an oil pipeline.
Martin Wilsher, chief executive officer of Amplify Energy, the company that operates the pipeline, said Monday that divers had tested more than 2,438 meters (8,000 feet) of pipes and were focusing on “an area of significant interest.”
During a news conference, he said the anchorage of a ship was “one of the unique possibilities” for the reasons for the leak to hit the pipeline.
U.S. Coast Guard officials say cargo ships entering the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach regularly pass through the area.
“We’re looking into whether it could be anchored from a ship, but it’s still under evaluation,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jenny Shaw.
Federal officials have stepped up testing of aging and inactive offshore power pipelines. Energy companies have built 64,000 kilometers (40,000 miles) of oil and gas pipelines in federal offshore waters since the 1940s.
In March, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a government observer, found that regulators had failed to address the risks of inactive pipelines, platforms and other infrastructure under the sea.
“As pipelines age, they are more susceptible to damage from erosion, mudslides and sea floor erosion,” GAO said.
Damon Nogami, an official with the Council for the Protection of Natural Resources, an environmental advocacy group, told Al Jazeera on Monday that the outbreak could be “absolutely preventable.”
“It’s a disaster, I think everyone should be upset,” said Nogami, who called on countries to stop relying on fossil fuels as a way to prevent future outbreaks.
“The biggest picture here is that we need to get out of fossil fuels completely as soon as possible,” Nogami said. “In the meantime, we need to make sure that the protections are stronger.”