Crews to look for tar balls on eight North County beaches

A worker in protective suit cleans the contaminated beach after an oil spill in Newport Beach.
A worker in protective suit on Wednesday cleans a contaminated beach in Newport Beach after an oil spill.

No oiled wildlife has been found in San Diego County so far; high surf, gusty winds expected Monday


Crews are scheduled to begin combing eight North County beaches this week where tar balls were discovered following the oil spill reported Oct. 2 off Huntington Beach.

The Unified Command responding to the spill, headed by the U.S. Coast Guard, warned beachgoers not to handle tar balls.

Beachgoers can expect to see environmental crews looking for oil residue at Oceanside Pier, Carlsbad City Beach, South Ponto Beach, Batiquitos Lagoon, Encinitas, Cardiff, San Elijo Beach and Solana Beach. If tar balls are discovered, clean-up crews in protective gear will be deployed to dispose of them.

No oiled wildlife has been found in San Diego County so far, according to United Command. SeaWorld San Diego remains on standby to help with mammals and sea turtles affected by the spill, but has not received any to date, a spokeswoman said.

About 50 birds have been found either dead or alive with oil in their feathers in Orange and Los Angeles counties. The UC Davis Veterinary Medicine is handling bird cleanup.

Officials are closely watching forecast high surf and gusty winds coming to San Diego County mid-day Monday through Tuesday morning. The winds and strong surf could stir up additional tar balls. The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory for the region starting Monday at noon.

Several beaches in Orange County are considered soft closures, which means the sand is open but the water and waterline are closed. Soil and water sampling was conducted Sunday at San Onofre Beach.

To date, 5,544 total gallons of crude oil have been recovered by vessel and 13.6 barrels of tar balls were recovered Saturday, Oct. 9. About 250,000 pounds of oily debris has been recovered from shorelines

If beachgoers encounter tar balls, they are encouraged to email

In addition to the Coast Guard, the Unified Command includes officials from Orange County, San Diego County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Amplify Energy Corp, which owns the pipeline.