When Patrick Webb showed up to work one day in early June at the Paddle House, which he owns on the International Boardwalk of the Redondo Beach Pier, something didn’t sound right.
He heard water running out of a storm drain that leads directly into the marina, where fishing boats and sailboats are docked and tourists visit daily. It was also where his customers launch the paddleboards Webb rents and stores on a dock next to the shop.
“It wasn’t raining,” Webb said. “It was one of the first weekends in a while that it’s been warm. I looked over to the side and there was this black film just pouring out of there.”
He then walked up toward where he believed the drain might lead and found more than two dozen 55-gallon barrels in the parking lot of The Village apartment and condominium complex.
It turned out, workers there, on June 8, had flushed oily material down a storm drain that emptied right into the marina in the middle of the city’s biggest tourist attraction. Remnants of the oil remained in parts of the marina nearly two months later. It’s unknown if the mishap was intentional or accidental.
Webb called the Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol, which set into motion a series of actions that included notifying the Office of Emergency Services; the OES, in turn, reported the spill to various agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, said Redondo Beach Public Works Director Ted Semaan.
Semaan said the spill was not significant and resulted in about a gallon of oily material flushed into the storm drain while workers at The Village apartments repaired or cleaned an elevator.
But Webb said he thought the spill looked a whole lot worse, saying the pipeline of mucky water did not completely stop running that day until about 1 p.m. and that it’s created a film of oil on the surface that’s remained for nearly two months.
The effects of the spill have lingered for weeks, Webb said. And even this week, the film remained.
On Monday, July 29, an especially high tide caused the storm drain to refill with water. When that occurred, residual oil in the drain emptied out.
Semaan said the city, for its part, did all it could about the spill by reporting the incident to relevant agencies and attempting to back out as much of the water and oily remains as possible.
He did not know what those agencies did about the spill or whether fines were enacted.
“We issued a notice of noncompliance to the property itself,” Semaan said. “Fines could be coming from state or federal agencies.”
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, when contacted, could not immediately provide an answer.
The company that Webb said was responsible for the spill paid him and his business $580 for lost revenue for the day while a city truck pumped oily water out of the storm drain from in front of his shop.
A representative for the company, based in Lakewood, declined to comment.