The section of the 16 inch steel oil pipeline that burst off the Southern California coast was "pulled like a bowstring" said the operator Amplify Energy CEO Martin Willsher, adding that the pipeline was displaced some 32 meters from where it should have been.
Roughly 3,000 barrels (126,000 gallons) of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean, killing wildlife, soiling the coastline and forcing officials to close beaches in the cities of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.
Willsher, the Amplify CEO, refused to speculate on the cause, a day after he suggested the pipeline may have been damaged by a ship's anchor.
As the U.S. Coast Guard Captain Rebecca Ore told reporters "[All] in all a 4,000-foot (1.2-km) section of the 17.7-mile (28.5 km) pipeline was displaced laterally, as discovered by a remotely operated vehicles."
Willsher noted that company divers were inspecting the area of the suspected leak reported Saturday, and he expected that by Tuesday there would be a clearer picture of what caused the damage. He reiterated that an anchor from a cargo ship striking the pipeline is "one of the distinct possibilities" behind the leak.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley expressed concern that the company [Amplify] could withhold evidence. But the county's emergency manager, Michelle Anderson, reassured the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the Coast Guard was on the scene as well to make sure the probe is independent.
"It is an investigation with objective parties involved, so that we will eventually know the outcome," Anderson said.