OB Paddle Out for Clean Water Follows Oil Spill Off Orange County, While Questions Raised of Response Time

by on October 4, 2021 · 4 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Photo by Jeff Stone of 2014 Paddle Out.

An estimated 500 people took part in the annual OB Pier Paddle Out for clean water on Sunday, October 3 — just days after one of the largest oil spills in recent California history erupted off the coast of Orange County.

Meanwhile, Southern California residents, business owners and environmentalists are raising questions on why it took authorities so long in reacting to contain the over 130,000 gallon spill, that spans nearly 6 nautical miles.

According to reports from people who live and work in the area, they noticed an oil sheen and a heavy petroleum smell Friday evening. Yet, it wasn’t until Saturday morning after 9 am that the Coast Guard first reported it.  It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that a unified command was established to respond. And it took until Saturday night for the company that operates the pipeline believed responsible for the leak to shut down operations.

It wasn’t until Sunday that booms were deployed on the ocean surface to try to contain the oil.

Back in Ocean Beach on Sunday, Surfrider was hosting its 29th annual Paddle For Clean Water event. It was not organized in direct response to the oil leak but when reports of the spill’s damage surfaced, the event’s relevance became especially prominent. Paddlers chanted, ““What do we want? Clean water! When do we want it? Now!”

Mitch Silverstein, chapter manager for the Surfrider Foundation in San Diego stated:

“It really underscores the work we’re doing and the necessity to shift away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. This will keep happening as long as we depend on fossil fuels.”

Kate Morrissey at the U-T reported:

Around 10:30 a.m., surfers and paddleboarders splashed through a swell on the northern side of the pier before winding under to circle its end and return again on the north side. Many caught waves on the final stretch of the paddle to propel themselves back to shore. The full circuit took between 20 and 30 minutes though some opted to stay in the water for some extra fun in the waves before coming back in.

Morrisey also described that “this year’s event also strove to include community-based organizations that encourage Black, Indigenous and people of color to surf and get involved in water-related environmental issues.”

That was a welcome difference from past events, said Risa Bell, a board member for the Surfrider Foundation. Bell, of Mission Valley, is also founder and executive director for Paddle for Peace, a group that started in 2020 and organized a paddle in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “There has always been that gap in surf and environmental activism,” Bell said. “It’s predominantly White, and we need to start diversifying that.”

Among the organizations represented at the event was Un Mar de Colores, a local nonprofit that works with youth in North County. “For a long time, the ocean has had one narrative about what an ocean protector looks like,” said founder Mario Ordoñez. “We want to have a seat at the table and have a voice.” Who is included in caring for the ocean was also important to Marc Chavez, founder and program director at Native Like Water. Ocean conservation and environmental activism events often don’t include Indigenous voices, Chavez said.

“As Indigenous folks, the original caretakers of these areas, it’s good to be represented,” Chavez said. “If you’re going to do environmental justice, you must also think about including native flora and fauna, and that includes us.”

For more on questions about the response time, go here to KPBS story.

On more from an Orange County view, go here to LAist.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Douglas Blackwood October 4, 2021 at 7:17 pm

This latest oil spill/leak illustrates the by-product of oil platforms in our Ocean: stop the drilling now!


Frank Gormlie October 5, 2021 at 9:55 am

Somewhat surprisingly, there wasn’t too much interest in this post among our readers. Hopefully, people are getting their news about the oil spill from more mainstream outlets.


Peter from South O October 5, 2021 at 3:28 pm

The s**t-show up North will undoubtedly be repeated as long as the Feds permit off-shore leases. Latest news is that the pipeline was ripped open by an anchor (a big one). This means that the ship responsible is going to be tracked down via satellite images (the commercial ones are that good now) and the shipping line responsible is going to be paying a LOT. Some DJ filed a lawsuit against the (just emerged from bankruptcy) operator of the platform already, but nautical charts are plainly marked with the pipeline locations and anchorage is prohibited.
Meanwhile, we here in Oceanside are bracing for the result to move South.


sealintheSelkirks October 6, 2021 at 4:34 pm

And our federal government is selling leases in the Gulf of Mexico after a court (a right wing judge) decided they had to. I mean, really?

But of course now the operators have certainly learned their lesson and would much rather spend some of their profits on installing more safety equipment etc etc instead of paying out dividends to shareholders and lathering money on their directors and CEOs, right? So what could possibly go wrong from all these wonderful people looking out and protecting the life in the ocean…except perhaps another Deepwater Horizon.

Big sigh. Our species, especially the corporate capitalist fossil fuel pigs, just don’t ever seem to learn. Maybe if we started JAILING the board of directors and CEOs instead of just fines it would make an impact? Oh we couldn’t do that because how does one jail a corporation even if it IS a human being?

Nah, they have better lawyers than the damned government anyway.

You have oil slicks and a poisoned ocean after every little rain and up here I have mountains that resemble a dog’s back with a serious case of mange with just a few hairs sticking up along the spine. You should see what I see. No, maybe you shouldn’t because it’s pretty dang depressing.

Clearcutting mountains is as disgusting as oil slicks…corporate timber ain’t much different than freaking corporate oil. Neither care about life on this planet.



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