Local beaches open- tar balls normal

By George Miller

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Sign on Wooley and Harbor Blvd. Tuesday, 6-2-15. Photo: CitizensJournal.us

Since the Refugio oil spill, there have been millions of words written, alarms sounded, politicians moaning- and that’s good. We don’t want oil spills fouling our waters and wish to avoid recurrences. But, has this gone “overboard?” Although the spill was significant, even the largest in SoCal nearly a half century, it was very minor compared to the big 1969 Unocal event and will be cleaned up with few, if any permanent effects.

However, there have been reports of extraordinary “tar balls” on beaches south of the spill all the way down to LA. We went out and walked our local beaches at Oxnard Shores and Hollywood Beach and saw no cause for alarm, at least not there.

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Oxnard Shores Sunday. Tar balls are pretty typical of what we see much of the year. Photo: CitizensJournal.us

This is pretty much normal and what ends up on the bottom of our shoes when we’re not carefully watching where we’re walking. It goes with the territory in a region like ours which is subject to oil seepages. There was a report of tar balls from the size of a dime up to a dinner plate, which is larger than we saw here. On Friday, we ran a recent photo of Refugio Beach (below), which looked like it had tar just a bit heavier than the Oxnard Shores beach, above.


Refugio oil spill, May, 2015. Photo: David Pu’u


George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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4 Responses to Local beaches open- tar balls normal

  1. Quinn Fenwick June 4, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I have to disagree with your reporting here. The oil on the beaches these last few days is hardly normal. I’ve lived on Pierpont for the last 35 years and am very familiar with the minor oil blobs we get due to a variety of factors. These last few days are entirely different.
    If I had a way to post my photos you would see how they contrast with yours. Taken in the area of San Pedro at the beach in Ventura they show an apps 2 foot slick of oil that ran from San Pedro all the way to the Seaward jetty. This is no ‘normal’ event.
    I’m amazed by the way you and others are so quick to try to minimize this event. Why is that?
    I will say that the company has paid some individuals to come and clean the beach the last few days. Today there were apps 50 workers in protective gear in area from San Pedro jetty to Seaward jetty cleaning up the oil. They seem to have done a pretty good job as well.
    My main point is this: why minimize this oil mess. Those of us concerned about the beaches are not looking for the responsible party to end fossil fuels as we all know it but rather simply clean up the mess that they made. Seems in fact that this is a pretty conservative ideal; exercise personal (or corporate) responsibility and deal with consequences of your actions.
    And again, please don’t call this mess ‘normal’.
    Quinn Fenwick

    • Citizen Reporter June 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Hi Quinn:

      We based that on visits to Hollywood/Mandalay, Oxnard Shores and Vta Pier Areas. Living in the area, I’m there often. You saw the representative photo. Send yours to [email protected] and we’ll publish it.

    • Citizen Reporter June 5, 2015 at 9:14 am

      Hi Mr. Fenwick. Just heard from David Pu’uu a few minutes ago. He said beach conditions at Pierpont are definitely normal and that there are folks “deployed” all over the place, doing inspections etc. He asked me to convey the following statement:

      Hey George,

      Slammed with field work right now and hope this will clarify a few things for some of your readership.

      The intent of reports from the field here is to not downgrade or upgrade anything or push a particular political perspective. (This is not about politics) As a Hawaiian and with my friend and colleague who is also of indigineous ancestry (he is a Chumash Federal Forest Service observer) the Ocean and it’s surrounds are viewed as our home. It is not something we visit. We are a part of it. The purpose of these lengthy surveys is to see if there is a substantial deviation from established observable benchmarks which we term baselines.

      In the course of Geologic time it is not unusual for the large amount of Santa Barbara Channel located vents to vacillate in volume, and frequently when this has occurred it was related to changes in pressure within the oil reserves the vents connect to.

      In historic context, surfers and watermen have long been sort of canaries in the coal mine for establishing connections to changes within the ecosystem. So what we do is nothing new nor completely specific to the spill at Refugio.

      This is part of the reason why I am frequently engaged as an SME (subject natter expert) in examining various Ocean related issues that may affect local, State, National and Global security.

      I am still in the study phase in development of a piece on that incident at Gaviota, which I hope will help people to better understand facets of the local diorama in which we live. I will pass it along when it goes to publication for you to share.

      It can be a benefit for my work, when people go out and photograph what they see, because it helps to provide a first person narrative for the changing conditions on our coast. Hope they keep doing it. One such photographic narrative was sent along by another of the community and is why we actually began a closer monitoring of conditions from Ventura southward. So rather than attack the person, I was grateful. That is just common sense.

      As a further illustration regarding perspective from those of us in the Ocean community here is a shot from a collection of imagery Patagonia’s Dan Malloy and I made awhile ago. It is designed to create awareness of the importance of up slope threats to public and marine health in our watershed and was shot very close to where some of the oil reports have hailed from. (Photo: https://citizensjournal.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/SurferGasmask.jpg ).

      As an aside, within 8 hours of shooting this, both of us were ill with fever and flu like symptoms. The surf here has a history of creation of that sort of thing. So though we take it rather personally, Ocean and Watershed health (some of us have had near death-serious health issues) we are forced to take a very level and systematic approach which is more in line with conventional research practices.

      Thanks for all that you and CJ do to build community and keep us informed, and to your readership for caring about where we all live.

      Much aloha,

    • Citizen Reporter June 5, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Here are photos and a note we received this morning from Mr. Fenwick of Pierpont Beach:

      These pics were taken on Friday May 29 at about 530 pm. This slick ran, in similar density, between the San Pedro jetty and Marina Park. Over the next day or two, as the tide got to it, it mixed in with sand and seaweed to make a thinner but more widespread mess (which is why I wanted it cleaned up!)
      By Monday crews had done a pretty good job of collecting the oil and as of last night all that remains are a few small blobs.
      if u have further questions feel free to reach me at XXXXXX (redacted) and as always keep up the good job of reporting
      on important local news. Thanks for your time.
      Quinn Fenwick



      Editor’s note: If you open and view photos, you’ll see that they are worse than both the Oxnard Shores and Refugio photos in the article. However, we have seen those conditions before multiple times in past years.


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