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Seal Beach Surf OK After Oily Sand Is Cleaned

May 16, 1987|BOB SCHWARTZ | Times Staff Writer

Orange County health officials pronounced the waters off Seal Beach safe Friday afternoon as cleanup crews carted off the last of nearly 600 tons of sand contaminated by crude oil that leaked into the ocean from an underwater pipeline. Beaches in Long Beach were expected to reopen today.

Officials of the state Department of Fish and Game said damage to wildlife appeared to be minimal so far. But they are still monitoring eggs spawned by grunion that burrowed into the oily beaches on Thursday night, according to Fish and Game Patrol Lt. Mona Lisa Cole.

Cleanup crews hired by Exxon Corp., which owns the leaky pipeline, and wildlife officials shined lights into the water and moved heavy equipment back and forth along the beaches until 1 a.m. Thursday, hoping to keep the grunion away, Cole said.

"It didn't work," Cole said. "They came ashore anyway. We'll have biologists taking samples (of the eggs) every three days, and we'll monitor that closely."

The grunion run was heaviest in Seal Beach, Cole said, but they spawned in Long Beach on Thursday night as well. Normally, grunion eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days.

The leak was discovered Wednesday, and it was quickly determined that the oil was coming from a pipeline running from Exxon's Belmont Island platform to an onshore processing facility. The oil company then dispatched four boats to skim as much as possible of the 420 gallons of oil that leaked out. Some of it, however, rode the currents and waves onto beaches.

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