Investigators believe a massive cargo ship dragging anchor in rough seas caught an underwater oil pipeline and pulled it across the seafloor, months before a leak from the line fouled the Southern California coastline.
A team of federal investigators trying to chase down the cause of the spill boarded the Panama-registered MSC DANIT just hours after it arrived this weekend off the Port of Long Beach. That's the same area where the leak was discovered in early October.
During a prior visit by the ship during a heavy storm in January, investigators believe its anchor dragged for an unknown distance before striking the 16-inch steel pipe.
The Coast Guard has it has designated the owner and the operator of the ship have been designated as parties of interest in the marine casualty investigation currently underway as a result of the oil spill.
The designation provides the owner and operator of the ship the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses who are relevant to the investigation, according to the Coast Guard.
The marine casualty investigation into the Orange County oil spill remains ongoing, with multiple pipeline scenarios and additional vessels of interest being looked into.
Meanwhile, many animals affected by the oil spill are being treated and some have been released back into the wild after being rehabilitated.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services shared a video last week of two birds that were rescued from the oil spill being released at Huntington Beach.