Oil spill disaster—How you can help!

Dear OCEA member,

Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Orange County in response to an offshore crude oil spill of 13-square-miles that has reached many of our beaches and environmentally sensitive wetlands. Your colleagues and fellow OCEA members at the Emergency Operations Center and various agencies are working with federal and state agencies to manage this environmental catastrophe.

The County of Orange and the Cities of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach have closed their beaches. The impact of the disaster on the County’s economy, wildlife, and public health have yet to be determined. We may not know the full scope of the damage for weeks or months to come.

As expected, there has been an outpouring of support for the agencies and non-profits engaged in clean-up and animal rescue efforts. The public is discouraged from actively participating in the clean up or trying to save oiled wildlife because the oil is highly toxic. You can cause more harm than good. It is imperative that only those with the proper training are involved with the cleanup. There are ways you can help, mostly by supporting organizations that care for wildlife. The following list of organizations appeared in a recent OC Register story:

The City of Huntington Beach has partnered with the Surfrider Foundation for beach cleanup. Anyone interested in helping on that front should visit www.cleanups.surfrider.org. Volunteers must complete four (4) hours of training before joining these efforts, so be prepared for that when signing up.

  • The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has set up a hotline for individuals to call if anyone sees wildlife impacted from the oil. The public is asked not to attempt to capture oiled animals. In such instances, you can call (877) 823-6926.
  • Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center, www.wwccoc.org, 21900 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, CA 92646, 714-374-5587. The nonprofit accepts injured animals from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers are not needed at this time. To help out with the rescue, you can make a financial donation. In-kind donations such as paper products, office supplies and laundry detergent are needed.
  • Pacific Marine Mammal Center, https://www.pacificmmc.org/, 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. The center rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals. Volunteers are needed to help with the care of animals and to work as docents, in the gift shop or helping with the junior camp counselor program.
  • UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network, https://whc.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/oiled-wildlife-care-network, is a statewide network of trained care providers from regulatory agencies and academic institutions as well as nonprofit organizations to help rescue and rehabilitate oiled wildlife throughout the state.

As always, you and your colleagues are responding to this latest crisis with skill and professionalism. It is an honor to stand with you as you proceed with work that is essential to the County’s recovery from this disaster.

In Solidarity,

Charles Barfield
OCEA General Manager

Publication Date: October 5, 2021