State and federal authorities are investigating an oil sheen spotted in the ocean near the ruptured pipeline that caused last month’s oil spill off Orange County, officials said.

“It is a light sheen, not a slick,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Braham. “The Coast Guard and [California Department of Fish and Wildlife] launched a team. They are currently investigating it.”

He said the sheen covers an area 70 feet by 30 feet, likening it the multicolored swirls that appear in the water when diesel gas is spilled at a boat dock.

He said the cause was undetermined.

State Sen. David Min (D-Irvine) said an official with Dept. of Fish and Wildlife told him that authorities flying over the area were unable to spot the sheen, but were continuing to search. He did not know who originally reported it.

“Maybe it’s just some residue coming off one of the pipe repairs,” he said in an interview.

“But whether or not this is another oil spill,” he added, a future one is an “inevitability until we get rid of these oil platforms off our coast.”

The Oct. 2 spill released between 24,696 gallons and 131,000 gallons of oil into the San Pedro Channel. Authorities believe the leak was caused by a ship’s anchor hitting and rupturing a pipeline that runs from an oil processing platform off Huntington Beach to the Port of Long Beach.

Federal authorities boarded the container vessel Beijing in Long Beach on Thursday, identifying it as a second ship under investigation in the spill.

A Coast Guard investigator determined that the Beijing was involved in an anchor-dragging incident on Jan. 25 during heavy weather at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, officials said in a statement, and the Coast Guardhas designated the ship’s owner, Capetanissa of Liberia, and operator, V-Ships Greece Ltd., as parties of interest.

Another large cargo vessel, MSC Danit, had previously been identified as being investigated for anchor dragging.

Coast Guard Capt. Jason Neubauer, who is leading the investigation, told The Times, “both vessels could be involved” in dragging the pipeline off Huntington Beach with their anchors earlier this year.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



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