FILE PHOTO: Workers seal off Newport Beach harbor as a major California oil spill moves south down the coast

The Coast Guard says it didn’t have enough evidence initially to act on oil spill off California

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Coast Guard did not investigate initial reports of an oil spill for nearly 12 hours because it didn’t have enough corroborating evidence and was hindered by darkness and a lack of technology, an official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral Brian Penoyer acknowledged that the Coast Guard was alerted Friday night by a “good Samaritan” that there was a sheen on the water. It put out a broadcast to the many cargo and tanker ships anchored off the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports seeking more information, but it did not receive any supporting reports.

Penoyer said it was common to get reports of a sheen near a busy seaport. It would take more than 12 hours after the report before an oil pipeline company reported a spill that could be up to 126,000 gallons (572,807 liters) of heavy crude.

READ MORE: Company suspected in oil spill had dozens of violations

“In hindsight, it seems obvious, but they didn’t know that at that time,” Penoyer said. “So putting yourself in the position of what they did know, this is a very normal process.”

The source of the leak was a 17-mile pipeline that was bent and had a large split in it and had been displaced by 105 feet on the sea floor, Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore said at a news conference.

READ MORE: Southern California oil spill could be ‘ecological disaster,’ take weeks to clean up

Investigators are looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck a pipeline on the ocean floor.

Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher said an anchor from a cargo ship striking the pipeline is “one of the distinct possibilities” behind the leak.

READ MORE: Ship’s anchor among possible causes of California oil spill

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