Tar balls are appearing on San Diego beaches, possibly linked to the pipeline breach in southern California

According to officials, lifeguards have been seeing tar balls wash ashore on San Diego beaches.
Officials are currently testing the tar balls but they believe it to be linked to the Orange County oil disaster.

If the oil spillage is related, San Diego County will declare an emergency.

Insider Healthcare: Get the latest news and analysis in healthcare Loading Click to sign up for marketing emails from Insider and other partners. You also agree to our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

Nearly 100 miles from the Orange County coast, tar balls were washed ashore on beaches in San Diego.

A 13-inch pipeline ruptured off the coast in southern California, five miles from Huntington Beach, and spilled more that 125,000 gallons crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. This closed local beaches and threatened wildlife.

Local officials are working to clean up the spillage to minimize its environmental impact on the ecosystems of the area. However, lifeguards from Oceanside and Carlsbad, approximately 93 miles from Huntington Beach, reported that they saw tar balls on their beaches Wednesday night. Officials announced this Thursday.

According to CNN, Nathan Fletcher (chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors) stated that while it is possible for such a thing to happen naturally, it is extremely unlikely and highly unusual and it is likely that these tar balls were the result of an oil spillage.

Fletcher tweeted Thursday that the shoreline assessment teams had been deployed to San Diego County to "test and determine with certainty whether they are from the SoCal Oil Spill."

Fletcher stated that San Diego County would declare a state emergency if tests reveal that the tar balls were connected to the oil spillage near Huntington Beach. He cited the CNN report.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website "an occasional short contact with a small quantity of oil, although not recommended, will not do any harm."

According to the website, "But, some people are particularly sensitive to chemicals, including hydrocarbons found crude oil and petroleum products." Even a brief exposure to oil can cause an allergic reaction or skin reactions. We recommend that oil contact be avoided in general.