A damaged pipeline off the coast of Southern California may have been struck by a boat's anchor months before leaking tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil last weekend, according to the Coast Guard.
Investigators said Friday that it appears the pipeline was intact a year ago, based on GPS records of the line's position and other data. But sometime after that, a ship's anchor snagged and pulled the line more than 100 feet from its position off the coast of Orange County.
"We're confident that back in October 2020 that the pipeline was intact, as it was surveyed by the company" said Coast Guard Capt. Jason Neubauer.
The Coast Guard estimated that between 24,000 and 132,000 gallons of oil leaked. About 5,500 gallons have been recovered so far.
Anchors from other vessels may have struck the pipeline as well, causing the 13-inch crack.
Footage released by the Coast Guard shows the section that was displaced. Another video shows the cracked portion of the line.
Authorities are still trying to determine when the pipeline was ruptured and started leaking. The small size of the crack may explain why it took so long to detect the pipe had burst, expert said.
A German ship that docked in Oakland this week was being examined if it was involved in damaging the pipeline.
The oil began reaching shores last weekend, forcing the closure of beaches in Huntington Beach and other nearby towns as dead fish and birds washed ashore.