Nick Gabaldón Day will take place on Saturday, June 18, 2022 from 9AM – 4:30PM.
Nick Gabaldón (1927-1951) was a pioneering surfer of African American and Mexican American descent. He was the first documented surfer of color in the Santa Monica Bay. Gabaldón’s passion, athleticism, discipline, love, and respect for the ocean live on as the quintessential qualities of the California surfer.
In 2013, with the help of African American historian Alison Rose Jefferson, Heal the Bay joined forces with the Black Surfers Collective to amplify and expand their prior Nick Gabaldón efforts. Nick Gabaldón Day, in its current form, is now in its 10th year and will be held on June 18, 2022. This innovative celebration provides an amazing opportunity for broadening outreach, action, and education to connect Angelenos with their cultural, historical, and natural heritage.
The shoreline and waters at Bay Street in Santa Monica were an active hub of African American beach life during the Jim Crow era. This beach was popular from the 1900s to early 1960s among African American people, who sought to avoid hostile and racial discrimination they might experience at other southland beaches. Racial discrimination and restrictive covenants prevented African Americans from buying property throughout the Los Angeles region, but their community’s presence and agency sustained their oceanfront usage in Santa Monica.
In 2008, the City of Santa Monica officially recognized the “Inkwell” and Nick Gabaldón with a landmark monument at Bay Street and the Oceanfront Walk. In 2019, this same beach was listed as the Bay Street Beach Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the African American experience and American history.
Nick Gabaldón Day introduces young and old from inland communities to the magic of the coast through free surf and ocean safety lessons, beach ecology exploration, and a history lesson about a man who followed his passion and a community who challenged anti-Black discrimination to enjoy the beach.
The Black Surfers Collective, Heal the Bay, Surf Bus Foundation, and the Santa Monica Conservancy collaborate for Nick Gabaldón Day to reach families in resource-challenged communities and connect them to meaningful educational programming. Together, we are helping build personal experiences with cultural, historical, natural heritage, and civic engagement that make up the foundation of stewardship, and the development of the next generation of heritage conservation and environmental leaders.
Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier will be free for all visitors in honor of Nick on Saturday, June 18 thanks to a grant from Northrop Grumman. A celebrity guest reader will pop in for story time and special art activities will be offered, as well as screenings of documentaries exploring issues of race, coastal access, and following your passion against all odds.
Tentative Agenda: June 18, 2022
9 am Welcome Ceremony and Memorial Paddle Out for Nick at Bay Street Beach
10 am – 1 pm Free surf lessons, beach and local history exploration, and cleanup at Bay Street Beach. Surfers must register in advance.
1 pm – 4 pm Celebration continues at Heal the Bay Aquarium under the Santa Monica Pier; admission to the Aquarium is free today in honor of Nick.
1 pm Documentary screening
2 pm Children’s story time with special guest reader
3 pm Documentary screening
Nick Gabaldón Day 2022 Partners Black Surfers Collective Heal the Bay Surf Bus Foundation Santa Monica Conservancy Color the Water
Sponsors Stüssy Northrop Grumman
For more information about partnership and sponsorship opportunities please contact: Jeff Williams, Black Surfers Collective, email@example.com or Meredith McCarthy, Heal the Bay 310.451.1500 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upholding its dedication to science-based advocacy, the environmental group Heal the Bay today announced Tracy Quinn as its new CEO. Quinn joins the Santa Monica-based nonprofit from the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she served as the Director of California Urban Water Policy.
During her tenure, Quinn was a widely respected voice on how communities and industries across California must respond to unprecedented drought by improving water efficiency and investing in climate resilient supplies through stormwater capture and recycled water. Her strong technical background and commitment to environmental equity are clear in her leadership in addressing emerging contaminants like PFAS, advocating for cost-effective strategies to improve water reliability, and partnering with frontline groups to protect low-income households from water shutoffs.
“I am honored and humbled to lead Heal the Bay into its next chapter as we tackle increasingly challenging environmental issues and work to ensure equitable outcomes for the communities in our watersheds,” Quinn said. “As California continues to adapt to a changing climate, Heal the Bay’s legacy of science-based activism makes it well suited to address the challenges in our region.”
As a Board Member of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Quinn pushes for bold actions to conserve and protect drinking water supplies for millions of people. She also served on the boards of The Wildwoods Foundation and the California Urban Water Conservation Council.
An extensive nationwide search culminated in the hiring of Quinn, who has been tasked with amplifying Heal the Bay’s science, advocacy, education, and community action programs. While focused on the organization’s core mission of clean water and healthy watersheds, she will implement strategies to deepen Heal the Bay’s engagement in solving the most critical environmental challenges in Greater Los Angeles.
Formed more than three decades ago as a local grassroots organization, Heal the Bay successfully led the fight to require Hyperion Plant to thoroughly treat sewage before releasing into the Santa Monica Bay, thereby protecting Southern California’s coast for the many people who rely on it. The region now has even bigger threats, from climate change to an uncertain water supply to an increasing amount of toxic legacy pollutants and plastics.
“Heal the Bay will always pursue protection of our public waters and fight against pollution. We have also transformed in recent years with inclusion-focused programs,” said Sharon Lawrence, chairperson of the organization’s Board of Directors. “Clean water is essential for our communities to survive and thrive, and Tracy is perfectly equipped to continue our important work.”
Quinn, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Cornell University and is a registered civil engineer in California, began her water-centric career in Los Angeles at Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, an engineering firm that delivers innovative water solutions in the US.
Quinn plans to lead Heal the Bay in forming smart strategic alliances and growing public participation across the diverse region of Greater Los Angeles. In the coming months, Heal the Bay will extend its impact with these key initiatives:
Upgrade River Report Card. Heal the Bay is protecting public health by increasing access to science-based water quality information for ocean, river, and stream water users. The nonprofit is going through a rigorous process to enhance its River Report Card by aligning the freshwater grading methodology with scientific standards and the well-known Beach Report Card’s “A through F” grading system.
Build Inell Woods Park. The nonprofit group is addressing water quality and supply issues for the communities most impacted by climate change. For the first time ever, Heal the Bay is building a stormwater park in collaboration with LA City Councilman Curren Price Jr. and community members! The groundbreaking for the new community-designed, multi-benefit green space Inell Woods Park is planned in South LA this year.
Ban plastic pollution. Heal the Bay is launching an advocacy campaign, targeted at Southern California voters, in support of the statewide 2022 ballot measure (California Plastic Pollution Reduction and Recycling Act), to reduce plastic pollution in communities and aquatic environments. The passionate science and policy experts are also pushing the City of LA and LA County to greenlight comprehensive ordinances that address single-use plastic waste.
Quinn formally joins Heal the Bay on May 2, taking the leadership reins from Dr. Shelley Luce, who has served as president and CEO since April 2017.
“I am so proud to leave Heal the Bay in Tracy’s hands,” says Dr. Shelley Luce. “Her focus on strong, equitable water policy will take Heal the Bay’s environmental advocacy work to the next level.”
“Shelley Luce began at Heal the Bay as a PhD student, grew as a scientific expert, and then led our organization as a trusted authority, coalition builder, role model, and mentor,” shares Sharon Lawrence. “Through the global pandemic she maintained operations and steered us through environmental and public health crises while keeping the public informed and engaged. The Santa Monica Bay and communities who use it are healthier and safer because of Shelley’s years at Heal the Bay.”
Earth Month is here and Heal the Bay is excited to celebrate all April long with in-person volunteer activities and hands-on training events, plus live virtual discussions and educational opportunities. Let’s learn and grow, go outside to do some good, and celebrate our amazing blue planet together because every day is Earth Day.
Individuals, households, schools, businesses, and community organizations are all invited to attend Heal the Bay’s Earth Month events. No special training or experience is required for any of our activities. Heal the Bay’s goal is to create that spark of inspiration so we can Spring Into Action for our coastal waters, rivers, creeks, and beaches in Los Angeles County.
Take a deep dive into the climate impacts on our local coastal and marine ecosystems in our Spring Into Climate Action blog. We’ll discuss the coastal impacts of the climate crisis, the main sources of the pollution that is accelerating climate change, and what you can do about it. We are not powerless in this climate crisis. Small changes at home do add up, and individual action can also take the form of supporting the systemic changes we need. Together, our actions can make huge waves!
Heal the Bay’s Plastics Initiative team is hosting an advocacy event to provide information about current state bills and local policies that address the enormous plastic pollution issue. Attendees can participate in reducing plastic pollution in LA County and California by completing specific actions! Registration in advance is required.
Get an introduction to Heal the Bay, our current issues, and how you can take part in our exciting volunteer programs. Founded on the principle that one person can make a difference, Heal the Bay has empowered thousands of volunteers to improve their environment, and now you can make a difference too. Our Orientation is ideal for those who want to learn more about how to take part in our beach, community science, and Aquarium programs. Registration in advance is required.
Heal the Bay’s MPA Watch team is adventuring out to a Marine Protected Area for an early morning tidepool tour and bioblitz. Experts will instruct guests on how to safely observe and document wildlife while discovering more about local marine ecosystems. This event is an introduction to one of Heal the Bay’s most popular community science programs where volunteers take long walks on the beach to collect data and protect precious marine habitats. Registration in advance is required.
Our big Earth Month cleanup helps to ensure safe, clean, and healthy local beaches. This Nothin’ But Sand beach cleanup is a meaningful opportunity for volunteers to directly improve the condition of our beaches while enjoying the outdoors. Cleanup supplies are provided and speakers will share ocean pollution facts and safety talks for people of all ages.
This is our first Earth Month cleanup since 2019 – at that time, 1,072 volunteers picked up 271 pounds of trash and debris that would have otherwise entered our ocean.This year we are restricting capacity due to health and safety concerns from the pandemic. Please note: April’s cleanup location will be provided in a CONFIRMATION EMAIL after you complete the registration at Eventbrite.
If the event says it is SOLD OUT, you can still come! Please bring your own gloves and buckets to participate in the cleanup. For those of you who can’t register because it is sold out, we will announce the location on the Eventbrite page a few days before the cleanup, so check back then to find out where we will be.
Special perks for volunteers: Stay energized at our Earth Month Nothin’ But Sand cleanup in April with FREE coffee provided by Don Francisco’s coffee truck. Just by participating in the cleanup, 3 lucky volunteers will win free coffee for a year from Don Francisco.
Need a Beach Wheelchair to enjoy some fun in the sun? Everyone should be able to enjoy a day at the beach, so come to Heal the Bay Aquarium to access our manual, beach wheelchairs, available for FREE public rentals.
Once you’re on the shore, take part in the Earth Month Nothin’ But Sand Cleanup or join Heal the Bay Aquarium staff for a guided beach exploration to learn more about the California coast and the thriving ecosystems we strive to protect.
Heal the Bay’s Beach Wheelchair rental program helps provide accessibility to one of nature’s most inspiring and critically important resources, and was made possible thanks to funding from The Coastal Conservancy. Learn more about our Beach Wheelchair Rental Program: https://healthebay.org/beach-wheelchairs-santa-monica-pier/
The award-winning Heal the Bay Aquarium located at the Santa Monica Pier has programmed an afternoon filled with fun Earth Month activities. Featuring exciting exhibits and demonstrations, it’s a great way for the entire family to experience the Santa Monica Bay and observe the local animals that call it home.
Our Aquarium’s Earth Day schedule includes:
“Who Pollutes?” Dorothy Green Room Special Presentation – 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM
Saturday Sea Star Feedings – 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM
Earth Day Story Time – 2:00 PM
Crafts, pollution displays, and short films will round out our afternoon of activities.
Immerse yourself in the science of water quality without getting your feet wet. Dive into a live discussion on @healthebay Instagram with Heal the Bay’s Stream Team and learn about how to start your impactful journey into the world of environmental careers.
On Earth Day, Heal the Bay Aquarium will host an Instagram Live featuring our Under the Pier Exhibit. Virtual visitors can learn all about local animal species that live in the Santa Monica Bay, including the critically endangered giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas), and view live feeding demonstrations. Swim by @healthebayaquarium on Friday, April 22 at 1:00 PM PST, and “shell-ebrate” Earth Day with us.
Join Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi at Miramar Park for a Cleanup of Torrance Beach. Community members will have the chance to discuss environmental policy with the Assemblymember as well as meet with our local partners. Please check the weather in advance and dress appropriately. This event is supported by local partners including Heal the Bay, Grades of Green and the Sierra Club Palos Verdes-South Bay.
LA Sanitation and partners are hosting an educational feria, or fair, full of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy while learning about the MacArthur Park’s upcoming improvements. Join in on Saturday, April 23rd for the latest updates on the MacArthur Lake Stormwater Capture Project and learn how this awesome initiative will benefit both the community and the environment. You’ll also have an opportunity to share your input regarding the in-progress project’s above-ground features. No registration is required for this public event on the park’s West side.
Jointly hosted and co-moderated by Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples and Heal the Bay in honor of Earth Month, the panel includes experts and activists in the Land/Water Back and Rematriation Movement. The panel will be held via Zoom and streamed to Facebook Live. And, follow us on Facebook for the latest updates. Registration for the Zoom is required in advance.
THE CALIFORNIA COASTLINE consists of various habitats including kelp forests, estuaries, wetlands, rocky reefs, and rocky intertidal zones (also known as tide pools). All of these habitats are vital natural resources that support thriving ecosystems, which in turn support healthy communities; provide economic and recreational value; and offer a natural form of climate resilience by dampening effects of sea level rise as well as absorbing the majority of our fossil fuel emissions and the extra heat as global temperatures rise.
“… to promote the public safety, health, and welfare, and to protect public and private property, wildlife, marine fisheries, and other ocean resources, and the natural environment, it is necessary to protect the ecological balance of the coastal zone and prevent its deterioration and destruction.” – CA Coastal Act
Oceans have served as a climate buffer for decades, but this has come at great cost because the climate crisis, accelerated by human activities, has altered the oceans’ natural processes. We see increasing ocean acidification, higher water temperatures, more frequent harmful algal blooms, disruption of ocean circulation, and rising sea levels that physically alter coastal habitats. In addition to these impacts from the climate crisis, stormwater pollution, plastic, and other contaminants affect our rivers, lakes, and ocean every day. Even now, in the 50th year of the Clean Water Act, half of US waters remain too polluted to serve their intended beneficial uses, such as water supply, recreation, habitat, and more.
For more information about local impacts, check out Heal the Bay’s 2021 Climate Change Aquarium Tour where our Senior Education Manager, Kelly Kelly, explains the climate impacts on the coastal and intertidal habitats of the Santa Monica Bay.
In spite of all of these destructive impacts, our coastal and marine ecosystems persist. Without even having to get into the water, we can observe this incredible resilience within intertidal ecosystems. Tide pool habitat conditions shift throughout the day as the tides rise and fall, from exposure to dry air and UV radiation, to complete submergence in ocean water. The organisms that live in these habitats have evolved to thrive under constantly changing conditions – dry vs. wet, hot vs. cold, exposed to land-based predators vs. not, and fluctuations in salinity as well. They may even survive as sea level rises, but only if they are given enough time to adapt, and enough room to move up shore. That part is up to us. If we drastically reduce our fossil fuel emissions, and even work to draw carbon back out of the atmosphere with nature-based solutions, we can slow climate change enough to allow for adaptation within these coastal ecosystems, as well as in our own human communities through practices such as managed retreat and protection through living shorelines. Slowing the rate of climate change will take immense and immediate action.
Take the Climate Challenge
We know that that majority of fossil fuel emissions (71%, in fact!) are from big corporations and extraction operations. But we are not powerless in this climate crisis. Individual action adds up and provides us with a daily reminder of why this fight matters. Beyond that, individual action can also take the form of supporting the systemic change and resilient policies that we need to tackle the biggest sources of emissions. Whether you have money, time, creativity, passion, or something else entirely your own, we all have a unique role that we can play. You can start with small changes at home, or do your part for critical systemic change by signing petitions or calling political representatives. Together, our actions can make huge waves.
Get involved this weekend by joining Heal the Bay’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) Watch team for an early morning tide pool tour and bioblitz – a biological survey recording the species living within a designated area — to document the current state of this critical intertidal ecosystem.
Want to do more? Consider the skills, experiences, and resources you have to offer and create a personal list of climate actions. Spring into Action today by doing one thing on this list, and then use that momentum to do what you can, when you can, with what you have all year long.
Here are some ideas to choose from to get you started with your personalized climate challenge…
At Heal the Bay we love our volunteers to the moon and back! After a two-year pandemic hiatus, we could not wait to celebrate those individuals that give so much to Heal the Bay with an out-of-this-world party at the Heal the Bay Aquarium.
The Heal the Bay 32nd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Party
Our volunteers are the rocket fuel that allows Heal the Bay to shoot for the stars when it comes to educating the public, local outreach, aquarium care, making an environmental impact, and everything in between. Amid a global pandemic, their dedication, passion, and love for our environment are the heart that kept and keep us going. We are only able to celebrate so many successes because of the time, dedication, and support our volunteers so graciously donate.
Our 2021 Volunteer Accomplishments include:
· Over 1793 hours of Aquarium volunteers hours contributed in 2021 as they interpreted at touch tanks, supported field trips, and assisted in caring for our animals.
· Our MPA Watch volunteers conducted dozens of surveys in 2021 to monitor use in the Palos Verdes and Malibu MPA sites.
· Heal the Bay continued our legacy of community commitment by enriching the lives of thousands of LA County residents through our Speakers Bureau program.
· Thousands of volunteers helped picked up trash from the greater L.A’s shorelines and neighborhoods last year. On Coastal Cleanup Day, we had 2,735 volunteers remove more than 5,051 lbs of trash from our waterways and neighborhoods.
Thank you again Heal the Bay Volunteers!
Our star-studded party sponsors
We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge our party Sponsors who supplied the raffle prizes and amazing refreshments that kept the party going.
Our stellar snacks, wraps, and sandwicheswere provided by our lunch caterer Good Heart Catering. The out-of-this-world donuts were donated by DKs Donuts, while Starbucks and Pacific Park donated some space-tacular raffle prizes.
Taking A Moment to Honor our Superstars
And of course, where would we be without our stellar 2021 Super Healers? These are our most dedicated volunteers, who continually go above and beyond the call of duty.
Their commitment is commendable, their dedication and passion for protecting water quality and the environment undeniable.
We’re proud to honor the following outstanding individuals with the prestigious 2021 Super Healer Award:
Justin Green -2021 Super Healer
Justin is a Santa Monica local who grew up coming to the aquarium for field trips. He’s always loved the Ocean and volunteering has only strengthened that bond. Justin even aspires to be a future aquarist! He has been volunteering at the aquarium for two years with both the Public Programs team and Aquarist Operations. His dedication and fearless drive to dive in headfirst wherever he is needed make so many programs possible and we are very honored he is part of our Heal the Bay Aquarium family.
Ian Brown -2021 Super Healer
Ian has grown up visiting the Aquarium (even hosting one of his childhood birthday parties here), and has been volunteering at the Aquarium for the past two years starting with our Public Programs, and later joining our Aquarist Operations. Ian’s dedication to education is truly inspiring and he is always researching new marine science facts to share with the public. The Aquarium team is always learning something new every time Ian volunteers. We are so thankful to Ian for all of his dedicated service, and for inspiring our visitors to get as excited and passionate as he is about the marine environment, and protecting what we all love.
Crystal Sandoval -2021 Super Healer
Crystal has been volunteering/interning within the Education Department for many years now. We’ve seen her learn and grow both within her capacities within our department, and also personally. She is constantly growing and is more than willing to go above and beyond for us. We cannot wait to see what else she will accomplish!
John Wells – 2021 Super Healer
Our MPA Watch program, which collects data on the human use of our local marine protected areas, would not be where it is today with out John Wells. Over the past two years, John has dedicated hundreds of hours to conducting MPA Watch surveys and in 2020, he was responsible for over HALF of all our surveys. John single-handedly kept our program charging forward, providing us with feedback whenever we asked and even befriending a local Fish and Game warden. We are deeply grateful for his rock star accomplishments!
John Wells has lived in four states, two of which are located near the ocean: Arizona, California, New York, and Colorado. When everyone else was moving in the opposite direction, John moved back to Los Angeles from Colorado Springs upon retirement in 2018. He earned degrees in Biochemistry from Cal State LA and UCLA, and ever the environmentalist, he worked as a chemical analyst measuring EPA Priority Pollutants in the 1980s. More recently he explored careers in grounds and building maintenance and instruction in school bus driving. Our 2021 MPA program was extremely successful because of his tireless dedication.
Oralia Michel -2021 Board Member Super Healer
Oralia Michel has been on our Board for 10 years. She takes her role very seriously, attending nearly every meeting and providing helpful ideas and feedback while always pushing us to do better. Oralia was on our Marketing Committee for many years where she applied her expertise in corporate partnerships and branding, putting in many hours to help Heal the Bay craft messaging and win over the hearts and minds of Angelinos. As Secretary of the Board since early 2021, she has been a voice for equity and inclusion on the Board and staff: she never hesitates to speak up and support transformative work to address inequities in our environment and our work for clean water. Oralia also served on our Search Committee a 6-month process to which she contributed enormous time and thoughtful input. Oralia’s creativity, constant support, and true friendship with our organization make her invaluable and a true Super Healer.
John Reyes -The Jean Howell Award
The Jean Howell Award recognizes the outstanding achievement in volunteer service of someone who has won a Super Healer Award in the past and this year the vote for our winner was unanimous. John Reyes is a LA native who has been involved with Heal the Bay since 2016, initially involved with HTB’s Nothin’ But Sand beach program and California Coastal Commission’s Adopt-A-Beach partnership with his family and friends. In addition, John has committed to being a Storm Response Team member, a California Coastal Cleanup Day captain, and a major component of the Suits on the Sand program. His dedication has included hundreds of hours of beach program involvement and has permitted him to average double-digit beach cleanups year after year! John’s passion for marine debris removal is only rivaled by his enthusiasm for native habitat restoration, especially within sensitive island ecosystems. He has been recognized for his outstanding contribution to restoring native habitats within California Channel Islands and is proud member #126 of the California Channel Islands’ exclusive “All 8 Club.” John’s outstanding contributions to Heal the Bay’s work earned him the Super Healer award in 2018, and he played a major role in the success of Heal the Bay’s in-person programming throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dave Weeshoff-Bob Hertz Award
The Bob Hertz award is Heal the Bay’s lifetime award recognizing volunteers who have given us a lifetime of extraordinary volunteer service and there is no one who deserves the recognition more than Dave. This Award is for volunteers who show up day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Dave has done so much for Heal the Bay, it’s almost impossible to capture it all, but his work on the 2021 advocacy for the Regional MS4 (Stormwater) Permit stands out among his many contributions. This single permit covers 99 permittees across the Los Angeles Region, and addresses the primary source of pollution to our surface water: stormwater. It was a massive undertaking. Dave not only provided written comments on the draft permit back in 2020 urging the Regional Board to make changes to the draft and adopt a strong permit, but he also did extra work to get others to sign his letter, making an even greater impact. He also attended multiple MS4 Workshop events and provided oral comments during at least three of these events. On top of all of that, Dave even joined me for two strategy meetings to parse through the trash prohibition language of the permit and find ways to improve it. We did not end up getting exactly what we wanted in this new permit, but we did get commitments for more accountability that we are finally starting to see. I am so pleased to nominate Dave for his outstanding advocacy work to help reduce stormwater pollution in Los Angeles.
We are heartbroken and outraged. Crude oil spilled from a pipe into the ocean near Huntington Beach, Orange County in October 2021. Here’s how to take action. This oil spill has taken place in unceded Acjachemen and Tongva ancestral waters.
LATEST UPDATE as of 2/8/22
The government agencies responding to the oil spill announced last week that their cleanup operations have ended for the two ruptured pipelines off the coast of Huntington Beach. All coastal habitats are deemed to be clean of oil, and the phone number and email address for reporting tarballs have been disabled. The public has been advised to contact the National Response Center (1-800-424-8802) if more oil is observed on the beach or in the water.
While the cleanup has concluded, the response to the oil spill is far from over. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will now complete a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). The NRDA will financially quantify the damage done by the oil spill in terms of habitat and human usage. The assessment has required that Amplify Energy pay that amount in restitution. The CDFW will need to conduct multiple scientific studies to collect and analyze a large volume of environmental data, so expect the NRDA to take several years to finalize.
We will not know the full environmental impact of the oil spill until the NRDA concludes, but we do have some preliminary details. The first ruptured pipeline released 25,000 gallons of oil into the ocean, and cleanup crews managed to remove 9,076 gallons. That means over half the oil that was spilled remains in the ocean or on the beach. In addition, the oil that was recovered may have harmed wildlife before being cleaned up. In total, 124 animals (birds, mammals, herptiles) were found to be oiled, and only 36 survived. The second ruptured pipeline released less oil into the ocean, but there is currently no estimate for how many gallons. Cleanup crews for the second pipeline recovered 176-236 gallons of oil from the ocean, and no oiled wildlife was observed.
Both pipelines have been emptied, and they are no longer in operation. However, the pipeline operators appear to be intent on repairing the pipelines and using them in the future. The Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is reviewing permanent repair plans for the pipelines. Please direct any questions about this process to email@example.com.
LATEST UPDATE as of 1/11/22
The agencies tasked with responding to the oil spill (U.S. Coast Guard, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Orange County, and San Diego County), have ended their cleanup operations at all Orange County and San Diego County beaches. Tragically, a rupture was discovered in a separate but nearby pipeline on January 2, 2022. Crews were deployed to clean up the oil sheen, and protective booms were placed at the entrances to Orange County wetlands to absorb any floating oil. It is reported that no oil from the second pipeline rupture has reached the beaches. At this time, no fisheries closures have been recommended by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.
The breach points in both pipelines have been identified and are being repaired. The remaining oil in the pipelines will be evacuated once repairs are completed. Cleanup crews will remain on call for an undetermined amount of time to respond to new incidents of oil sheens or tar balls. Oil and tar ball sightings should be reported to the National Response Center (1-800-424-8802) and California Office of Emergency Services (1-800-852-7550). For additional information about the oil spill, email firstname.lastname@example.org
After the Orange County Oil spill released over 25,000 gallons of oil in early October, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recommended the closure of both commercial and recreational fishing to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The recommendation suggested a moratorium that would encompass the area from Huntington Beach to Dana Point. As of October 3rd, the closure prohibited the take of all fish and shellfish from an area that included over 20 miles of California coastline, with the boundary reaching 6 miles out to sea. The OEHHA had identified “that the threat to public health from consuming fish in the affected area was likely” and a few days after the original closure began, the CDFW expanded the prohibited territory to include bays and harbors from Seal Beach to San Onofre State Beach.
From October 14 to November 3, the OEHHA sampled seafood along this 650 square mile area to measure and evaluate polyaromatic hydrocarbon levels. PAHs are harmful chemicals found in oil and can accumulate along marine food chains, specifically in fish and shellfish caught for human consumption, “causing increased risk to cancer and other adverse health conditions.”
Three days ago, after extensive testing, the OEHHA announced that as of November 29, “there is no further risk to public health from seafood consumption in the affected area.” Following the OEHHA recommendation, Director Bonham of the CDFW signed a declaration lifting the ban on fisheries allowing fishing to resume no later than midday on November 30, 2021.
Beach and shoreline cleanup activities in Orange and Sand Diego counties are winding down as most beaches impacted by the spill have been deemed clear of oil by the spill response agencies (see here for how they determine this). There are still two segments of coastline in Orange County and three in San Diego County where there are ongoing cleanup activities. The US Coast Guard and Office of Spill Prevention and Response will respond to any new reports of oil on the coastline even at beaches where cleanup operations have ceased.
LATEST UPDATE as of 10/29/21
It has now been nearly 3 weeks since the Orange County oil spill.
Monitoring and cleanup continues by the Unified Command. More than 5,000 gallons of oil have been recovered by skimmers and over half a million pounds of oily sand and debris have been removed thus far. Based on a recently released water quality report, there appears to be very little detectable toxins in the water and all beaches and harbors are now open. Heal the Bay strongly believes that more monitoring is needed for the affected area and we encourage all beachgoers to continue checking the Beach Report Card before heading to the water.
The Talbert Marsh still has floating barriers in place, but all other barriers have now been removed. Boat decontamination stations are available in harbors and all affected boats can be cleaned at the expense of the responsible party. The oiled wildlife that were recovered alive are doing well, and fewer in number than originally feared. Of the 33 oiled birds recovered alive, 20 have already been released. The total number of animals affected is just under 100 and includes birds, marine mammals, and fish.
Tar balls still may occur on beaches, and can be reported to CDFW at email@example.com. Questions still remain about when and how the damage to the pipeline occurred, the exact amount of oil spilled, when and how the response began and how effective that response has been in properly informing and protecting the public. It does appear that less oil was spilled than the first estimates, and the minimum estimate is now just over 25,000 gallons in total.
Orange County beaches are open, but please be cautious.
Orange County officials re-opened all beaches on Monday, October 11 after a week-long closure due to the oil spill. The decision to open the beaches appears to be based on a water quality report recently conducted by a third-party contractor. They collected water samples and measured the amount of harmful petroleum compounds present in the water. All sampling locations showed non-detectible amounts of petroleum compounds, and one site at Bolsa Chica State Beach had a non-toxic level of certain compounds.
While the results are encouraging, Heal the Bay believes this report alone does not provide enough information to confidently re-open beaches, and we would like more information before we recommend people head out to the beach. Therefore, we continue to have an advisory listed on our Beach Report Card for Orange County beaches. Here are some facts about the report that we would like you to consider before going in the water:
The report only includes water quality data. Given that petroleum-related fumes pose a health risk to humans (page 2 of report), we would like to see air samples taken as well.
The data in the report is only from one day of sampling. The City of Huntington Beach has stated that monitoring will take place twice a week, and results will be posted on their oil spill website.
Only Huntington Beach beaches were sampled. We would like to see data from every beach along the Orange County coast impacted by the spill.
If you do decide to go to the beach, please do the following:
Avoid contact with visible oil on the sand or in the water.
It began with reports from community members smelling gas on Friday afternoon, and evidence of a visible oil slick on the ocean surface by Saturday. The official announcement of the spill came later Saturday evening: 126,000 gallons of crude oil gushed from a seafloor pipe into the surrounding ocean. The pipeline (owned by Amplify Energy) transports crude oil from the offshore oil platform Elly, located off the coast of Orange County in federal waters, to the shoreline in Long Beach. According to the LA Times, US Coast Guard criminal investigators are now looking more closely into the events leading up to the spill and potential negligence in the delayed response.
Oil spills are terrifyingly toxic to public health and marine life. Beaches are closed, and dead and injured birds and fish are already washing on shore. Marine mammals, plankton, fish eggs, and larvae are impacted too, as this toxic crude oil mixes with the ocean water, spreading both across the water surface and down into deeper water. As of 1:45 PM on October 5, only 4,700 gallons of the 126,000 spilled gallons had been recovered. Sadly this oil has also reached the sensitive and rare coastal wetlands at Talbert Marsh, a critical natural environment not only for wildlife habitat, but also for improving water quality by naturally filtering contaminants from water that flows through; however, this wetland cannot filter out oil pollution on such a scale.
(Photo by City of Huntington Beach)
Major oil spills keep happening because oil companies prioritize profits over the health of people and the environment. This is evidenced by the fact that the oil industry has continuously sought to skirt regulations and loosen up restrictions on oil extraction. The danger posed by the oil industry’s pattern of reckless behavior is augmented when you consider that much of the oil infrastructure in California is decades old and deteriorating. This is the second major pipeline leak in 6 years. The last one in 2015 was the Refugio oil spill that resulted in 142,000 gallons of oil damaging our coastline in Santa Barbara.
Oil spills are part of a much larger pollution problem. The impacts of fossil fuels are felt at every stage, from extraction to disposal.
Major oil spills are disastrous, yet somewhat intermittent. But air pollution from fossil fuel extraction sites and oil refineries located on land have a harmful impact every single day for fenceline neighborhoods. Low-income communities and communities of color are exposed to disproportionate health and safety risks due to a history of abundant drilling within close proximity to where community members live, work, and go about daily life.
So, what does all this risky drilling get us? In the end we are left with products like gasoline, which contributes to the climate crisis when burned, or plastics that are used once (or not at all) and then thrown “away,” ultimately ending up right back here, polluting our neighborhoods and ocean.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
It is still unclear what caused the oil spill as well as exactly when it started and when it stopped. Divers are conducting an ongoing investigation, which will give us more information about what caused the rupture that led to thousands of barrels of oil spilling into the Pacific Ocean.
Crude oil is a mixture of toxic chemicals including benzene and other carcinogens, and oil can come in a few different forms, which can have different impacts on the ecosystem. Unfortunately, we do not yet know the type of oil that was spilled, and proprietary trade laws allow oil companies to keep their oil and chemical mixtures a secret. We also do not know how cleanup progress will be monitored and if water quality testing will be included in that process or not. Based on previous spills, we expect the beaches to be closed for several weeks, and we expect environmental harm to last for years.
WHAT NOT TO DO
At this time, the best thing you can do is to stay away from the oil spill area for your own safety.
Stay clear of oil-fouled and closed beaches, stay out of the water, and keep boats far from the existing oil slick. As of October 4, Newport Harbor and Dana Point Harbor are closed, and a beach closure has been put into effect in Huntington Beach. Allow plenty of space for rescue workers and cleanup crews from the US Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response (CDFW-OSPR) to access and work at the spill site. If you see any injured or oiled wildlife, DO NOT try to intervene on your own. Instead, report the animal to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-823-6926.
CDFW has issued an emergency fisheries closure between Anaheim Bay and San Onofre Beach. The closure extends 6 to 10 miles offshore. Any take of fish from this area is prohibited until further notice and CDFW is carefully patrolling the area. If you are an angler, check this detailed description and map to ensure you are staying outside the fishing closure for your own health and safety. Shellfish and fish may become contaminated from the oil and other chemicals in the water. Eating fish and shellfish from the contaminated area may make you sick, and it’s also hazardous to be out there fishing because of possible exposure to harmful fumes from the spill.
Heal the Bay’s Science and Policy team is working on a public call to action with specific policy demands that we will share soon on our blog and on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook channels. In the meantime, there is still a lot that you can do while keeping a safe distance from the oil spill.
If you are local, you can volunteer with spill cleanup efforts. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is soliciting volunteers from the public to assist in volunteer tasks with the Unified Command.
You can contact the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network at 1-877-823-6926 to report oiled wildlife. Currently, only trained responders may assist in the cleanup efforts. However, if you would like to sign up to be trained for future emergencies, you can fill out this OSPR Incident Volunteer Form, or call the volunteer hotline at 1-800-228-4544 for more information.
You may encounter tarballs on San Diego and Orange County beaches. Oil contains hazardous chemicals, and for safety reasons we recommend not handling tarballs or any oil yourself. If you encounter tarballs, contact cleanup teams at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
This is NOT an exhaustive list; there are many organizations and individuals doing this hard work. If your group is working on the spill or fighting big oil and would like to be added to the above list, contact us.
If we continue to rely on fossil fuels, oil spills and air pollution are inevitable and their impacts will continue to be devastating. The only solution is to shut down this dirty industry and protect ourselves and our environment through a just transition away from an extractive fossil fuel economy.
Cabrillo Beach is seen empty after the city of Long Beach closed the beaches due to a report of a spill of between two and four million gallons of untreated sewage into a canal in Carson, in Long Beach, California, US. December 31, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. (REUTERS / DAVID SWANSON – stock.adobe.com)
A massive and dangerous sewage spill happened late last week in Carson. Millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed through residential areas, into storm drains, in the Dominguez Channel, and out to the ocean.
Some Long Beach beaches, OC beaches and LA beaches are closed and will remain so until daily water quality testing for fecal-indicator bacterial pollution shows contaminants have reached an allowable level.
Heal the Bay is calling on officials and agencies to increase water quality monitoring during emergencies and to prevent sewage spills from happening by rapidly updating aging infrastructure.
The sewage spill is now estimated to be between 6 and 7 million gallons. A spill of this magnitude is dangerous and unacceptable, and we need to understand what happened. The recent storm undoubtedly contributed, but we need infrastructure that doesn’t fail when it rains. pic.twitter.com/OC1h5Mg2vl
Our gift guide below features some goodies, that give back to Heal the Bay’s mission, which can be delivered instantly or picked up locally. All proceeds support our work to keep the coastal waters and watersheds of Greater Los Angeles safe, healthy, and clean.
Need a last-minute gift for the person in your life that is, let’s say, particular? Our Heal the Bay Shop gift cards are delivered digitally, and can be used on tee-shirts, hats, reusable bags, sustainable utensil kits, and more.
For someone who loves to volunteer with Heal the Bay, a special hoodie or hat with our iconic logo on it is a super thoughtful gift that keeps giving.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from all of us at Heal the Bay!
P.S. — We encourage you to make your gift wrapping sustainable (use an old tee-shirt, reusable bag, or newspaper), to shop locally and support small businesses, and to be mindful that the best gift you can give is your presence.
On December 3, 2021 our local water agency leaders gathered together to discuss the major water challenges impacting Greater Los Angeles and how to solve them at Heal the Bay’s first-ever ONE Water Day event.
ONE Water Day at Will Rogers State Beach
The sun was shining, the DJ was playing the hits, and our Heal the Bay team was setting up for a cleanup (while dancing in the sand) as we welcomed over 200 attendees to a first-of-its-kind networking opportunity at Will Rogers State Beach. ONE Water Day brought together many prominent heads of local government agencies and engineering companies to meet and discuss the future of water in Los Angeles. There were more than 26 different organizations represented at this networking event, sparking countless partnerships, and raising over $120,000 for Heal the Bay.
ONE Water Day attendees participated in a scavenger hunt to clean the beach and experience what trash and debris ends up at our beaches from all over our local watersheds.
After guests had time to mix and mingle, the day started off with a land acknowledgement to recognize the Tongva and Chumash tribal ancestral lands where the event was being held. Then attendees were invited to participate in a Heal the Bay scavenger hunt for trash. This hands-on and team-oriented beach cleanup was an opportunity for individuals from different organizations to collaborate and observe first-hand the realities of pollution.
In just 30 minutes, 19 teams collected 200 buckets of trash along two miles of the Pacific Palisades coastline. Amongst an eclectic array of waste, more than 600 cigarette butts were collected, with Team 12 taking home first place prizes for the most items captured.
After the cleanup, a panini lunch was served by the fantastic team of Critic’s Choice Catering, giving attendees a chance to recharge and enjoy the many event exhibitors and perfect beach weather on a winter day.
ONE Water Day Panel, guest speakers from left to right; Martin Adams, Robert Ferrante, Adel Hagekhalil, Dr. Shelley Luce (host), Mark Pestrella, Barbara Romero, Dave Pedersen.
Next on the agenda was a panel conversation hosted by Dr. Shelley Luce, Heal the Bay CEO and President. The panel guest speakers included six influential leaders speaking on the topic of Los Angeles water. All were eager to discuss systemic water quality issues, the impacts of climate change, and the cooperative solutions they envision for Los Angeles.
Speakers included: Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California;Barbara Romero, Director and General Manager, LA Sanitation and Environment; Robert Ferrante, Chief Engineer and General Manager, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts; Dave Pedersen, General Manager, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District; Martin Adams, General Manager and Chief Engineer, LA Department of Water and Power; Mark Pestrella, Director of LA County Public Works.
Energy was high and the feeling was hopeful as the ONE Water Day panel shared their visions for the future. Guest speakers from left to right; Adel Hagekhalil, Dr. Shelley Luce (host), Mark Pestrella, Barbara Romero.
Takeaways from the ONE Water Panel from Dr. Shelly Luce
ONE Water Day was a unique event. The panel was a rare honor and opportunity to question each of the guest speakers on their plans for building a sustainable water supply for Los Angeles in this time of extreme drought and climate change.
We learned so much from our panel speakers at the event. The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation and the Department of Water and Power are collaborating to recycle treated wastewater for drinking water. The LA County Sanitation Districts and the Las Virgenes Metropolitan Water District are doing the same in their respective areas, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. And, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is collaborating with cities throughout the region to capture and treat urban runoff, aka stormwater, so it can be infiltrated into groundwater or reused for irrigation.
This massive shift to conserving and recycling our water has taken place incrementally over decades. It requires a level of collaboration among agencies that has never occurred before.
Adel Hagekhalil, the General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District, stated it perfectly:
“We take water for granted, and we forget that water is essential to firefighting, to drinking, to our health and our safety; hospitals don’t run without water. Fire cannot be fought without water. Businesses cannot run without water Schools cannot be schools without water. Homelessness cannot be addressed without water. So, water is life,” Hagekhalil said. “Sometimes we’re willing to pay $200 for our cell phone, but are we willing to pay that money for the future of our water?”
To demonstrate this commitment, Hagekhalil asked everyone at the event to stand and pledge to work every day toward the ONE Water goals. All did so, willingly and enthusiastically. It was a great moment for all of us who care deeply about our sustainable water future to affirm our commitment.
A huge thank you to the amazing ONE Water Day Sponsors, our proud partners of Heal the Bay, and organizations that are leading the way in their commitment to environmental sustainability:
Los Angeles has major water challenges to solve, and Heal the Bay sees events like this as an opportunity to upload the value of collaboration and accountability, to continue conversations that lead to solutions, and to create opportunities for partnerships like never before. This Heal the Bay event is the first of its kind for our organization, but is certainly not the last.
Want to support our ongoing efforts for for One Water? Donate Here
It’s hard to believe that it has been just over a year since the LA Times broke the shocking story of large-scale and widespread dumping of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) waste in the deep waters of the San Pedro Basin, off the coast of Southern California, prior to about 1960. The dumping of DDT took place in unceded Tongva, Acjachemen, and Kizh ancestral waters.
The revelation of this extensive, deep-water dumping by UCSB scientist Dr. Valentine and story by LA Times environmental reporter Rosanna Xia horrified even those of us who have worked for decades on the well-known DDT Superfund site in shallower waters off the coast of Los Angeles, in the Palos Verdes shelf. However, this deep-water dumpsite was a lesser-known piece of the toxic legacy of DDT production by the Montrose Chemical Company in Torrance.
DDT, a legacy pesticide, is known to have devastating and long-lasting impacts on wildlife, ecosystems, and human health.
DDT was produced by Montrose from 1943-1983 at their Torrance factory, with much of their DDT-contaminated waste dumped into the sewer system and eventually released in the waters of the Palos Verdes shelf, off the coast of Los Angeles. This created the largest underwater Superfund site in the United States. Stormwater runoff from the factory contaminated the Dominguez Channel and Port of LA too, both of which remain poisoned to this day. And, over the last year we learned that DDT-waste was also taken in barges far offshore and dumped in the deep ocean.
DDT is an especially devastating chemical because it never goes away. It gets into ocean animals and concentrates as it moves up the food chain. It harms untold numbers of fish, marine mammals, and birds, as well as people who rely on fishing to feed themselves and their families.
There are still many questions that need to be answered about the nature and extent of DDT contamination in the deep ocean. We must discover the hard truth about how it continues to poison our ecosystems, including people and marine life.
Since the LA Times article came out, there have been some steps in the right direction but much more needs to be done. Options for removal or mitigation must be explored. The health of people who eat local seafood, especially subsistence fishers, must be protected. Companies that caused the pollution must be held accountable, and government agencies that oversee research and cleanup must be proactive in their work. Above all, the public must be engaged and informed on progress clearly and frequently.
Led by Senators Feinstein and Padilla, the federal government has a proposed earmark of $5.6 million for NOAA, UC Santa Barbara, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography to study the San Pedro Basin deep-water DDT dump site. This is a great start but is not finalized yet and is only about half the amount needed to conduct a comprehensive assessment.
Further, research, mitigation, and cleanup efforts must be approached collaboratively at all levels of government to begin to understand and address this natural disaster as the implications for environmental and public health are far-reaching.
Sign this petition urging Governor Newsom and the California Senate and Assembly to commit, at a minimum, $5.6 M in the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year State budget to match the proposed federal funding allocated to DDT. The State of California permitted this dumping and needs to dedicate resources to tackling this disaster in collaboration with federal agencies.