NEWPORT BEACH, Calif .– The ports of Newport Beach and Dana Point have reopened to allow fishing boats, tour boats and pleasure craft to return to their normal activities.
The ports were closed after reports of 126,000 gallons of crude oil emerged. This oil found its way to the coast of Southern California and sparked a call for volunteers to help clean up.
Newport Beach companies that rely on an open port have had to temporarily cease operations. Now they’re back with one caveat. Fishing vessels cannot operate from Dana Point to Sunset Beach.
The moratorium extends six miles into the ocean. This includes shellfish such as lobsters that are currently in season.
Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said the news was a good step forward for the city’s economy.
“I think people will definitely come back because we really had minimal impact,” he said.
The beaches have been carefully manicured, but the water is still closed to swimming and won’t open until the water tests are clean.
Second District Manager Katrina Foley, who asked for volunteers to help with the cleanup, announced the port openings along with fifth District Manager Lisa Bartlett.
“I would like to thank the United States Coast Guard leadership, the Orange County Harbor Patrol, and the leadership of our Orange County Emergency Operations Center for working with our residents to facilitate the safe reopening of our ports,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley. “The impact of the oil spill has negatively impacted many of the small businesses that drive our vibrant coastal economy.”
The port, which reopened at 3 p.m., was closely watched by private contractor Patriot, who Avery said was hired to help clean it up. The boat attached two outriggers, he said, to stop an inflow of oil. Both were pushed aside, but Avery said weather conditions could force the port to close again.
But for now the beaches remain a narrow observation area. Avery walked through the sand at Wedge, a popular surfing area, and found no oil.
“All the beaches really get a lot of attention and cleanup,” said Avery. “I think people will definitely come back because we really had minimal impact.”
The city instructs visitors to avoid contaminated wildlife and to report injured animals at 1-877-823-6926.