Local and federal officials are not saying how much oil and oily debris washed up on city beaches on Tuesday after offshore winds swept the coast.
At least 60 workers under contract with Patriot Environmental Services were cleaning the sand between the Laguna Canyon Creek exit and Heisler Park. A pair of U.S. Coast Guard Response Team members were overseeing the clearing efforts of a makeshift parking lot for the contractor’s passenger vans at the Cobblestones.
When asked how much gear had been removed from city beaches on Tuesday morning, a city spokesperson referred questions to the United Command led by the U.S. Coast Guard and based in Long Beach. Crews and contract volunteers have collected 347,500 pounds of sand and oil debris in Orange and San Diego counties since the first oil spill response, the Coast Guard spokeswoman said, Amy Stork.
The Coast Guard could not provide an estimate of the amount of debris removed from the Laguna Beach shoreline.
Marine safety chief Kevin Snow said rescuers continued to see small tar balls wash up and a storm that hit Monday night affected more of the city’s beaches. These sightings are reported to the United Command Environmental Unit for response.
âAs Chief Maritime Safety Officer, the safety of the public is always our number one concern, and a situation like this certainly presents very unique and different safety concerns from those we deal with on a daily basis,â Snow said. in a prepared statement.
Snow said he was amazed at how his department has come close to public works, police and other city departments that people don’t realize are playing a role in this emergency response.
On Tuesday, Blackhawk Environmental biologists contracted by the state’s Department of Fish & Wildlife collected seawater samples near the Main Beach playground.
Laguna Beach and county officials are simultaneously testing ocean water for pollutants linked to the oil spill, city officials said.
The Orange County health care agency expects to receive the test results by the middle of the week and will speak out when the oily compounds are no longer a threat to public health and safety. A series of clean tests is essential before authorities reopen the water for the wading pool and ocean sports.
Laguna Beach has also engaged environmental scientists with Rincon Consultants, Inc. to conduct its own water sampling at four locations: Crescent Bay, Main Beach, Victoria Beach in Dumond, and West Street Beach. The consultants also sampled ocean water last Friday and Monday.
City Councilor Toni Iseman said on Wednesday that after the oil cleanup was over, she wanted to know what crews found on the city’s beaches.
âIt’s so personal for so many people – the fact that we are a reserve and that we are one of the few places where we are protected by the state,â Iseman said. “To this day, I am very impressed with what is going on.”
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