Major Coastal Spills in California History

2021

Amplify Spill

In early October, an oil spill began from a pipeline about 5 miles offshore of Huntington Beach. Beta Operating Co., a subsidiary of Amplify Energy, owns and operates the platform and pipeline. The last known estimate was that about 25,000 gallons were spilled into the waters surrounding Orange County and San Diego County.

2015

Refugio Spill

Due to an oil pipeline rupture, 142,800 gallons of crude oil impacted one of the most biodiverse coastlines in all of the Western United States. Affected beaches were closed for over two months.

2007

Cosco Busan Spill

The container ship Cosco Busan struck a support tower in the Bay Bridge, puncturing the vessel and spilling 53,569 gallons of Intermediate Fuel Oil.

1990

American Trader Spill

An oil tanker ran over its anchor, puncturing its hull, spilling 416,000 gallons of crude oil off the coast of Huntington Beach. Costs were estimated at $35 million for cleanup and $15 million was paid in settlements for impacts to recreation and wildlife. This spill inspired the establishment of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.

1988

Shell Martinez Spill

 A leaking tank at the Shell oil refinery drained approximately 400,000 gallons of crude oil into a nearby creek. The oil then ran into a marsh and into the bay.

1986

Apex Houston Spill

The tank barge Apex Houston lost a hatch cover while being towed from the Shell Oil refinery in Martinez to Long Beach, spilling an estimated 25,800 gallons of crude oil.

1969

Union Oil Spill

A blowout from a platform spilled an estimated 3 million gallons into the Santa Barbara channel. An estimated 10,000 birds and other wildlife died. This spill catalyzed robust environmental policy, such as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (1970) and the signing of the Clean Water Act (1972). It remains the largest spill in California’s history and 3rd largest in US history.