Coast Guard Taps 2nd Ship as Party of Interest in Oil Spill

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A cleanup crew decontaminates an oiled boat at Huntington Harbour in California.
A cleanup crew decontaminates an oiled boat at Huntington Harbour in Huntington Beach, California, Oct. 16, 2021. The boats are brought into a boomed off area where they are safely cleaned with a biodegradable solution. (Hunter Schnabel/U.S. Coast Guard)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. Coast Guard investigators on Friday said they have identified a second ship suspected of dragging its anchor near an underwater pipeline that later leaked crude oil into the waters off the Southern California coast.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that investigators boarded the BEIJING in the Port of Long Beach on Thursday and that the owner and operator of the vessel were designated as parties of interest in the probe of last month's oil spill.

Authorities said the ship was suspected of dragging anchor during severe weather on January 25 near the pipeline that ferried crude from offshore platforms to the coast.

The pipeline run by Houston-based Amplify Energy leaked about 25,000 gallons (94,635 liters) of crude into the ocean last month, prompting beach and fishery closures and raising concerns among environmentalists about the impact of oil washing up along the coast.

The Coast Guard previously designated the owner and operator of the MSC Danit as parties of interest to the spill for suspected anchor dragging near the pipeline during the same weather event. Other vessels and scenarios remain under investigation.

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