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California oil spill: Evidence suggests anchor pulled pipeline ‘like a bow string’

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Evidence emerged Tuesday that a ship’s anchor snagged and dragged an underwater pipeline that ruptured and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil off Southern California, an accident the Coast Guard acknowledged it did not investigate for nearly 10 hours after the first call came in about a possible leak.

The pipe was split open and a nearly mile-long section apparently pulled along the ocean floor, possibly by “an anchor that hooked the pipeline, causing a partial tear,” federal transportation investigators said.

“The pipeline has essentially been pulled like a bow string,” said Martyn Willsher, CEO of Amplify Energy Corp., which operates the pipeline. “At its widest point, it is 105 feet (32 meters) away from where it was.”

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