Oil Spill Prevention & Response

Oil spills have a history of decimating marine ecosystems and crippling coastal cities. In Los Angeles, tourism, recreation, fisheries, and economy are all dependent on a healthy ocean, and an oil spill off our coast would destroy most of this. Between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Chevron’s El Segundo Marine Terminal, Los Angeles County has about millions gallons of oil a day arriving on our shores. In addition, supertankers just 20 miles southeast of Catalina Island are transferring millions of gallons of oil daily. Similar to the extent of the Exxon Valdez, if a spill occurs from a tanker off the coast of Los Angeles, the oil could potentially stretch across the coastline of the entire state.

Our Advocacy program works to raise awareness about the major environmental concerns related to oil spills here in Los Angeles. We also reach out to and work with local agencies and companies to help ensure that all of the right steps are being taken to prevent a spill from happening. This also means finding the best, most environmentally-safe method for responding to an oil spill should one occur.

Read our report, Crude Awakenings,  on oil spill prevention and response in LA County, HERE.

POLA-LB Gwen Noda

Los Angeles County Oil Facilities

Los Angeles County is an area highly impacted by the oil and gas industry. From oil rigs disguised as buildings, pipelines crossing the county, vessels unloading oil offshore, to the beachfront El Segundo Refinery, L.A. has a court side seat to nearly all aspects of the industry.

  • Ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach- The combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is the largest port complex in the U.S.  It is a major thoroughfare for oil transfers, and is home to numerous oil and cargo ship terminals.
  • Chevron El Segundo Marine Terminal- The Chevron El Segundo Marine Terminal is an open ocean oil terminal 1.5 miles off the coast of El Segundo.  The last of it’s kind, all other major commercial open ocean terminals in California have been decommissioned.  Because tankers transferring oil are not protected by a port or harbor, an oil spill at the El Segundo terminal could be catastrophic to local marine life and coastal communities.
  • Wilmington Oil Field- The third largest oil field in the continental United States, the Wilmington Field extends inland throughout the county as well as offshore into San Pedro Bay.  Extraction by means of fracking is ongoing.
  • Echo-PAL Lightering Zone-  Lightering is the process where oil is transferred from a supertanker, or Very Large Crude Carrier, to a ‘normal’ size tanker that is small enough to dock at an average California port.  The Echo-PAL official lightering zone (image below) is approximately 20 miles southeast of Catalina Island and 20 miles offshore.  A spill during this transfer process could be catastrophic for Southern California marine life and coastal communities.

lightering_BrettChristopherLindell via Neptunenation.blogspot.com

What You Can Do

In the tragic occurrence of a major oil spill in Southern California, volunteer work may be extremely useful in minimizing damage to the environment and improving the effectiveness of the cleanup. There is a wide variety of volunteer options in oil spill response, with some requiring training and being affiliated with a volunteer organization before a spill occurs.

The number one meeting to attend for all citizens that are concerned with the local response to an oil spill is the Los Angeles and Long Beach Area Committee. The LA/LB Area Committee is responsible for updating its associated LA/LB Area Contingency Plan. This planning group welcomes public comments regarding any and all issues related to oil spill response in and around LA County. For example, Los Angeles Waterkeeper recently addressed the LA/LB Area Committee with a concern that the Area Contingency Plan did not include the Palos Verdes Peninsula as a location to protect in the response strategies. The Committee recognized the concern and is currently making the appropriate changes to the Area Contingency Plan.

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Contact Us

LA Waterkeeper
120 Broadway, Suite 105
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Email: info@lawaterkeeper.org
Phone: 310-394-6162
Fax: 310-394-6178

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