October 2021 Oil Spill | Cal Parks

October 2021 Oil Spill

Published: October 13, 2021

As you may have heard, a major oil spill off the Orange County coast contaminated beaches and wetlands on October 2, 2021. We are devasted for the coast, communities, and the plants and animals impacted by this disaster. 

Approximately 126,000 gallons of oil leaked from a broken pipeline which impacted beaches along the Orange County coast. Oil spilled from the broken pipeline near an offshore drilling platform in the Beta Field, owned and managed by Amplify Energy Corporation. The consequent 13-mile long oil slick is now impacting our coast. 

We are looking to socalspillresponse.com for the latest updates overall and California State Parks incidents page for specifics on state parks.   

As of this week (October 11, 2021), state beaches are back open. Crystal Cove State Park is fully reopened to the public. Bolsa Chica State Beach and Huntington State Beach are fully reopened to the public. These beaches were able to reopen after coastal ocean and wetlands water quality testing results showed non-detectable amounts of oil associated toxins in the ocean water.  

If you plan to visit: 

If you plan to visit one of these beaches, please use caution. Visitors are advised to avoid areas where an oil smell is present. It is expected to see oiled materials and tar balls wash up on the beach. Oil contains hazardous chemicals, and for safety reasons, we ask the public not to handle any tar balls or oil. If skin contact occurs, wash the area with soap and water or baby oil. Avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, or similar products on the skin. These products, when applied to skin, present a greater health hazard than the tar ball itself. More information about tar balls is available at SoCalSpillResponse.com/tarballs

Here is what you can do: 

  1. Please consider making a donation to support one of the many of the organizations on the frontlines of the clean-up effort: Oiled Wildlife Care Network; Pacific Marine Mammal Center; Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center of Orange County

  1.  Support Bolsa Chica State Beach. The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is working closely with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation and clean-up organizations, and are facilitating charitable donations of items to assist with response efforts. They have set up an Oil Spill Response Fund to raise monetary donations for this environmental emergency that will be transferred to one or more of the organizations directly involved with the emergency response efforts.   

  1. Crystal Cove State Park: Follow Crystal Cove State Park on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for real time updates around the park and possible upcoming clean-up efforts.  

  1. If you find oiled or sick wildlife, call the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6962. People are being asked not to approach potentially affected wildlife, as you can cause more harm than good to the animal. 

  1. Again, if you encounter tar balls on San Diego and Orange County beaches, contact clean up teams at tarballreports@wildlife.ca.gov. Do not handle tar balls as oil contains hazardous chemicals. 

  1. Review Surfrider’s “Oil Spill Toolkit” that provides information about oil spill responses. 


Please note the volunteer program for the incident has received an enormous show of support for the environment and the community. Over 10,000 volunteers signed up to assist with the incident response. At this time, the need for volunteers has been fulfilled and CalSpillWatch will be closing its volunteer registration portal.