The US Coast Guard (USCG) sent a team to Oakland yesterday to examine the 4,843 Hapag-Lloyd teu Rotterdam Express as investigations intensify into how a pipeline has been cut off the coast of Southern California over the weekend.
A U.S. Coast Guard investigation found that a section of the pipeline was “Laterally displaced” by more than 30 meters sparking speculation, a ship’s anchor may have been behind the spill, which saw 3,000 barrels of crude drain into the sea near Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles on Sunday.
The USCG sent a team to examine the Hapag-Lloyd vessel, which was at anchor, about 500m from the pipeline when the spill was detected. The ship then left for Oakland on Monday.
A spokesperson for Hapag-Lloyd said Splash today that the Rotterdam Express had dropped anchor at anchor SF-3 as reported by San Pedro Traffic on September 21. The anchor was cast exactly as requested and confirmed by San Pedro Traffic.
“During the period in question, the vessel did not leave the anchorage and did not cross the pipeline. During the anchoring, no oil in the water was spotted, ”the spokesperson said, adding:“ Hapag-Lloyd is cooperating with all authorities involved. “
The incredibly busy anchorages around Los Angeles and Long Beach mean the USCG has plenty of ships to examine as part of its investigation, with no official word yet to indicate that a drag anchor was to blame.
Beta Operating Company, a subsidiary of Amplify Energy and the company that operates the pipeline, has been cited by federal regulators for more than 100 violations in the past 11 years, according to CNN. The company reportedly had 125 incidents of non-compliance documented by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which oversees the offshore drilling industry.
Analysts from Skytruth, a nonprofit that uses satellite technology to track environmental issues, suggest the Rotterdam Express was the ship closest to the pipeline at the time of the accident, but even so, its 500m distance from the pipeline was probably too far away to be the culprit.
“I don’t think there is basically enough leash for a ship to be anchored and pushed to around 1,500 feet,” said John Amos, president of Skytruth. Los Angeles Times.