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Major oil spill off Southern California fouls beaches

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — A major oil spill off the coast of Southern California fouled popular beaches and killed wildlife while crews scrambled Sunday to contain the crude before it spread further into protected wetlands.

At least 126,000 gallons (98,420 liters) of oil spilled into the waters off Orange County, according to a statement from the city of Huntington Beach.

“The spill has significantly affected Huntington Beach, with substantial ecological impacts occurring at the beach and at the Huntington Beach Wetlands,” the statement said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that birds and fish have been killed. Crews led by the U.S. Coast Guard deployed skimmers and floating barriers known as booms to try to stop further incursion into the wetlands and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.

The coastline was closed from the Huntington Beach Pier nearly 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) south to the Santa Ana River jetty. Officials canceled the final day of the annual Pacific Air Show that typically draws thousands of spectators to Huntington Beach, a city of about 199,000 residents about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of downtown Los Angeles.

The Times said the oil slick is believed to have originated from a pipeline leak. The Huntington Beach statement early Sunday said “while the leak has not been completely stopped, preliminary patching has been completed to repair the oil spill site,” with additional repairs planned.

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