AP journalists provided a week of outstanding coverage on one of the largest oil spills in modern California history after oil leaked from a damaged underwater pipeline, washing up on Huntington Beach, otherwise known as “Surf City USA.” The reporting revealed potential lapses in the response by the pipeline company and the Coast Guard.
Working in all formats, reporters Stefanie Dazio, Amy Taxin, Brian Melley and Matt Brown; videographers Eugene Garcia and Haven Daley; and freelance photographer Ringo H.W. Chiu followed the developing story with sterling spot coverage that kept the story among the most popular of AP’s offerings.
Among the highlights, Melley chased documents to find that about 12 hours passed after the first report of a possible leak before the company, Amplify Energy, shut down the pipeline and notified the Coast Guard. He also found the Coast Guard waited until after daybreak to begin search for the spill even though they had reports of a suspected spill hours earlier. Brown reported that Amplify’s response plan for a major spill called for what the company may have failed to do — quickly identify the problem and shut down the pipeline.
Dazio, meanwhile, pressed company and Coast Guard officials, both in news conferences and one-on-one, to clarify often conflicting or evasive information on the response.
Taxin, who lives in Huntington Beach, had been first on the scene and delivered daily reporting on the cleanup. A week after the leak she wrote that while the long-term environmental effects aren’t known, the spill wasn’t the catastrophe conservationists and city officials first feared.
Video and photos virtually owned this story for the entire week, producing a wide range of compelling visuals. Freelance photographer Chiu captured photos of oiled birds and workers painstakingly cleaning the beach, as well as drone video and stills for perspective. Video journalists Garcia and Daley offered clients a morning live shot each day and hustled to cover everything from multiple news conferences to the cleanup effort, and reaction from local residents and business owners.