In October of 2021, an independent oil and natural gas company experienced a pipeline leak approximately four miles off the coast of Southern California. The leak resulted in the release of close to 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the tidal waters of Southern California endangering the regions world-renowned beaches, wildlife, and fisheries.
Witt O’Brien’s immediately responded on behalf of the oil and gas company and a significant team of emergency management responders were on-site within two hours. On behalf of the client, we assumed the role of incident commander and key general staff positions, leading a Unified Command that included representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the State of California, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, County of Orange, and the County of San Diego. This effort demanded a range of unique solutions, including the expansion and relocation of the command post; implementation of the Incident Command System (ICS) and the development of an Incident Action Plan (IAP), Source Control measures, on-water oil recovery, shoreline beach cleanup, civilian and commercial boat decontamination, and miles of proactive protection of environmentally sensitive areas. As the leak contaminated a significant number of private vessels, Witt O’Brien’s developed and managed a large-scale private vessel decontamination program. We established a working relationship with the responsible party’s underwriters and legal team, allowing us to deliver creative and complex solutions in real-time to the satisfaction of the private vessels’ owners. The effectiveness of the program greatly reduced the possibility of future litigation for the client.
This aggressive and complex response lasted more than three months. Our partnership with the oil and gas company resulted in a successful response to the pipeline leak and significantly mitigated the impact of the oil spill. We supported our client with on-site and virtual staff members meeting the demanding deliverables in operations, logistics, finance, media strategy, and communications throughout the duration of the incident.