With more than 130,000 gallons of filtered crude oil traveling along the southern California coast, many Southern Californians are wondering what can be done to help them leave the thick path of debris that is destroying wildlife and ecological reserves.
Now, the answer is not much, at least not in terms of physical work. But there are other ways you can help with the cleansing efforts.
The Orange County Health Agency issued a statement Sunday warning residents to stay away from affected areas and seek medical attention if there is a possibility of exposure. Crude oil is particularly toxic and can cause skin damage such as skin irritation and vomiting.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a similar message on its Call Spill Watch site, saying the state’s cleanup effort “uses only trained volunteers”. He added: “Public volunteers are not needed and may block response efforts.” The site provides a form that potential volunteers can submit, indicating the extent of their training and experience.
Trained leak response contractors have been appointed to prevent the spread of oil and to clean certain areas of the affected environment, including wildlife. “Stay away from beaches and oceans for now and let the professionals do their job,” said Gary Brown, director of the Orange County Coast Guard.
Brown warned boat owners not to clean oiled boats while in the water. Dish soap works well for cleaning animals, but it will stick to the oil that is cleaned from the vessel and sink to the bottom of the harbor. He noted that boat owners will have to wait until more information is available.
But public help is still needed to clean up, Huntington Beach City noted on Instagram. “Right now, wildlife rescue teams need donations,” the city said; Donors are advised to donate items to the Bolsa Sika Conservancy on Huntington Beach or the Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Laguna Beach. Dishwashing detergents and gloves are the most sought after items by companies.
Cash or distribution donations can also go to state and local organizations, including:
California Coast Guard Alliance
Huntington Beach Wetlands
In the meantime, the following areas are closed to the public until further notice:
Place de Newport Beach
Beaches of Laguna Beach City
For more information on oil spills, see:
Los Angeles Times Leak Oil Spill
Orange District Health Care Agency Beach Closing Map
Southern California Spill Response Platform established by federal and state agencies, and Amplify Energy, the seawater drilling company responsible for the spill
Karen Garcia and Ada Cheng contributed to this article.
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