Feds offer loans to those harmed by California oil spill


FILE – In this Oct. 7, 2021, file photo, workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach in Corona Del Mar after an oil spill in Newport Beach, Calif. A group of environmental organizations is demanding the Biden administration suspend and cancel oil and gas leases in federal waters off the California coast after a recent crude oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity and about three dozen organizations sent a petition Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to the Department of the Interior, arguing it has the authority to end these leases. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The federal government will offer disaster loans to businesses harmed by an oil spill that shut down Southern California shorelines earlier this month, it was announced Wednesday.

The U.S. Small Business Administration approved disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans for Orange County, where the spill took place, along with nearby Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The agency declared an “economic injury disaster” for the counties, making loans available for small businesses and agricultural cooperatives and private, non-profit organizations.

The deadline to apply for the loans is July 27, 2022. Applicants can sign up online at: https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/.

About 25,000 gallons (94,635 liters) of crude oil leaked from a broken pipeline off of Huntington Beach, closing down the shore in self-proclaimed “Surf City USA” for more than a week. The local economy was pummeled. Nearby beaches and local fisheries closed, a popular air show was cancelled and local shops were hard-hit.

The cause of the leak, which was confirmed Oct. 2, remains under investigation. Federal investigators are looking into whether a container ship anchored during a January storm may have dragged the anchor, snagging the pipeline.

It’s not known why the leak occurred eight months later, and authorities also are looking into whether other anchors hit and weakened the pipeline or if a preexisting condition with the line was to blame.

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