Environmental PolicyCalifornia GovernmentThe Environment

California Cleans Up After Oil Spill

Posted on in Environmental Policy · California Government · The Environment

Residents of Orange County in California were told to avoid the beaches as thousands of gallons of oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean. Although, the Orange County Health Care Agency’s preliminary reports were positive, there is concern of potential harm to public health and the environment.

The U.S. Coast Guard designated the oil spill a Major Marine Casualty which is the highest level of severity. According to the Coast Guard this event was designated as such because it involves a vessel and damages that are estimated at more than $500,000.

What do investigators believe caused the oil spill off the coast of California?

INSTRUCTORS: click the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt and a debate question as well as other assessment questions.


News Articles:

Pipeline crack in California oil spill may have occurred up to a year ago, investigators say


10/8/21 https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/08/us/california-oil-spill-friday/index.html

Orange County oil spill: A week later, water remains off-limits

Los Angeles Times

10/9/21 https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-10-09/huntington-beach-orange-county-california-oil-spill-update

California pipeline likely damaged up to a year before spill

ABC News

10/8/21 https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/mystery-lingers-california-oil-pipeline-leak-80470975

Global Supply Chain Nightmare May Be Behind California Oil Spill


10/6/21 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-06/california-oil-spill-cause-may-have-been-ship-anchor-crowded-port

News Articles (Analysis):

California oil spill: Images released of cracked pipeline; cargo ship denies role in disaster

USA Today

10/7/21 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/10/07/oil-spill-california-coast-guard-boards-cargo-ship-amid-probe/6024626001/

Months Before Oil Spill, Pipeline May Have Taken Quiet Damage

New York Times

10/9/21 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/09/us/oil-spill-pacific-ocean.html

Despite preparation, California pipeline operator may have taken hours to stop leak


10/8/21 https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/despite-preparation-california-pipeline-operator-may-have-taken-hours-stop-leak-2021-10-08/

A timeline of the California oil spill, from the first report to the clean-up


10/6/21 https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/06/us/huntington-beach-california-oil-spill-timeline/index.html


Writing: Explain why oil spills have such a visceral effect on the public. Why might an oil spill jeopardize plans to expand pipelines or continue exploration at sea?  

Debate: Should the California oil spill be the impetus to weaning the country off fossil fuels?  

Poll: Did the California oil spill receive disproportionate attention nationally because it affected affluent communities?  

Short Answer: What should government do to help businesses, already affected by the pandemic, that were forced to close because of the oil spill?


Approximately how many gallons of oil were spilled into the Pacific Ocean outside of Orange County in California?

a. 1,460

b. 14,729

c. 140,000

d. 14,085,010

What part of an ocean vessel do investigators believe cause the 13-inch break in the pipeline that lead to the oil spill in California?

a. the anchor

b. the propeller

c. the hull

d. the bow

Amplify Energy, the owner of the ruptured pipeline, is headquartered in which U.S. state?

a. California

b. Oklahoma

c. Texas

d. Wyoming

This is the first major oil spill to affect California. (T/F)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have taken the lead of the oil spill investigation. (T/F)

The split in the pipeline that led to the oil spill is approximately 13-inches long. (T/F)

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