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Coast Guard investigators board ship that was anchored near leaking California oil pipeline

California Oil Spill Hapag-Lloyd ship
Posted at 5:55 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 08:59:12-04

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — The U.S. Coast Guard has boarded a massive cargo ship as it investigates the rupture of an offshore oil pipeline that sent crude washing up on Southern California beaches.

Officials want to know whether a ship anchor snagged and bent the pipeline off Huntington Beach.

The Associated Press reviewed tracking data from MarineTraffic and shared it with the Coast Guard. The AP found the German-flagged Rotterdam Express made three unusual movements over two days that appear to put it over the pipeline.

A U.S. official told the AP that the ship is a focus of the spill investigation.

Hapag-Lloyd, the company that operates the ship, denies any role in the leak.

"We are fully cooperating with the authorities at this moment," said Nils Haupt, a spokesman at Hapag-Lloyd's headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.

Officials first noticed the leak on Saturday. Since then, tens of thousands of gallons of oil leaked out, some of which spilled onto beaches in Orange County.

On Tuesday, officials said that the pipeline had a 13-inch gash in it and that a 4,000 stretch of the network was "laterally displaced" by about 105 feet.

Amplify Energy Corp., the Houston-based company that owns the pipeline said they shut down all of their production and pipeline operations at the Beta Field as a precautionary measure.