OC oil spill: Congressional committee promises full accountability

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- A congressional committee began hearings Monday into the oil spill off the Orange County coastline that shut down beaches and businesses and harmed wildlife in the area.

Committee members promised full accountability from whoever is responsible for the spill, as local businesses told about the losses they incurred as a result of the beach and water shutdowns.

"My fish sales at my fish market, once that was released, they dropped drastically, down 80%, this past few weeks since it was released," said Scott Breneman with the Newport Beach-based West Caught Fish Co.

The joint hearing was held Monday morning in Irvine involving two subcommittees chaired by Southern California representatives.

Rep. Katie Porter, an Orange County Democrat, chairs the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a Long Beach Democrat, chairs the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

"I want to assure the public, this committee will do oversight to make sure there is a full, fair and complete investigation of the circumstances surrounding this leak," Porter said.

Orange County oil spill: Pipeline may have been displaced a year ago
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OC OIL SPILL: The Coast Guard says the original displacing of the underwater pipeline that ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of oil off the coast may have occurred as long as a year ago.

The Coast Guard says about 25,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean, a lower amount than initial estimates of up to 131,000 gallons.

Investigators say it is possible a ship's anchor dragged along the ocean floor, pulling the pipeline with it. They are looking at a cargo ship that was caught in rough waters in January that resulted in some movement while anchored in the area.

In the meantime, there is some additional good news. Six birds that were not oiled, but were injured and captured prior to the leak, have been released back into the wild.

The birds - five brown pelicans and a Brandt's cormorant, had been injured by fishing lines and treated at a local wildlife center. They were ready to be released as of Oct. 4, but were held back two weeks to make sure they would have a safe environment to return to.

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