California’s justice department is investigating the spill off the coast of Huntington Beach earlier this month, which sent thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, announced on Monday.
The spill, from an undersea pipeline, polluted the waters near Los Angeles last weekend, blackening beaches and endangering wildlife.
Bonta said the state’s justice department would work with other state, local, and federal authorities to determine the cause of the spill and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent or minimize the disaster.
Officials have previously said the cause remains under investigation, and they believe the pipeline was probably damaged by a ship’s anchor several months to a year before it ruptured.
“The oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach is an environmental disaster with far-reaching consequences for our fish and wildlife, for our communities, and for our economy,” said Bonta.
Experts have warned the spill probably won’t be the state’s last, with numerous ageing oil rigs offshore.
The US senator Alex Padilla of California said: “It is unacceptable that Californians are once again facing the devastating effects of an offshore oil spill. The trade-off between oil production and environmental harm is simply not one we should be making any longer, especially given how fossil fuel emissions are exacerbating the climate crisis.”
US Coast Guard officials said a pipeline owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy that shuttles crude from offshore platforms to the coast leaked at least about 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) and no more than 132,000 gallons (500,000 liters) of crude oil into the ocean.
The spill was confirmed on 2 October, a day after residents reported a petroleum smell in the area.
Huntington Beach – dubbed “Surf City USA” – reopened earlier than many expected on Monday after a putrid smell blanketed the coast and blobs of crude began washing ashore.
City and state park officials decided to reopen the shoreline in Huntington Beach after water quality tests revealed no detectable levels of oil-associated toxins in the ocean.
The Associated Press contributed to this report