President Mike Gertner opened and Roger Summers said the prayer. Roger asked God to bless club leadership, and members with health, strength, and happiness. Al Wach led the Pledge.
Twenty-four members pledged to Families Helping Families. Bob Wood announced he sent them invoices for their donations. Mike reported on the most recent football pool. Todd Summers and Shirley Lashmett battled for low man. Todd was furthest from the tie breaker number and won $3. Seymour Beek finished second with 12 correct, and Shirley was first with 14 correct, winning $21. In Cynthia Strasmann’s absence, Gina Lesley reported the Christmas party will be lovely, and requested the song sheets be given to her.
Diane Daruty introduced Mike Halphide, Assistant Fire Chief for the Newport Beach Fire Department and Chief of Lifeguard Operations. Mike attended UCI, where he played water polo on the top ranked team. He completed his Master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton. In 1984, he began his career with Newport Beach as a lifeguard, and is retiring at the end of this month. He plans to continue his career in Incident Management. As Chief Lifeguard, Mike has enjoyed mentoring young lifeguards and watching them become successful adults.
In addition to Lifeguard Operations, Mike is in charge of disaster and emergency response such as floods, Covid, and the oil spill. The day of the spill, Newport Beach lifeguards were supporting Huntington Beach with their air show. By afternoon, the matter was serious; the air show had become the oil spill show. That evening Mike coordinated with Huntington Beach’s Chief of Police, his friend Julien Harvey, to create an emergency plan. The oil originated from a pipeline on the sea bottom that delivers oil to Long Beach.. It was hit by a ship or something that cracked and caused it to leak. While they first estimated 170,000 gallons spilled, they later found it was less.
Newport’s City Manager asked Mike to meet her the next morning at 6:00 a.m. Mike showed photos from that morning of a duck covered in oil and stretches of beach with oil residue. These images were splashed across the national news. Fortunately, the oil was fully cleaned off the duck. Mike believes the spill’s impact on birds was minimal. However, dolphins were affected, with 40% perishing and 60% assisted and released.
Cleanup began swiftly. Because of the Exxon Valdez spill, companies have oil response protocols. The pipeline owner immediately launched boats to skim oil off the water. Newport Beach closed the water and shoreline. Staff knew from the Covid response some refuse to leave the beach. Fortunately, with help from police, the shutdown had 99% compliance.
By Monday, the Captain of Ports in Long Beach closed Newport Harbor and the fisheries. Newport Beach deployed shoreline contamination and assessment teams and initiated air monitoring. On Tuesday, shoreline cleanup crews arrived with more added each day. By Friday, an army of 1,500 workers were picking up oil. The oil was tracked daily. Each day the situation improved, with a significant drop off in a few days.
The situation was often frustrating. Many citizens contacted the city to volunteer. But because 24-48 hours of training was required to retrieve oil, the city had to turn them away including those from Surfriders and wildlife groups. Also, while Newport Beach is accustomed to exercising local control, the spill required it to work through layers of agencies that moved slowly. Unified Command included the pipeline owner, U.S. Coast Guard, California Fish & Wildlife, California State Parks, Orange and San Diego Counties, and the cities of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Seal Beach, and Dana Point.
On the other hand, there were fortunate occurrences. First, the oil spilled was less than initial estimates. Second, the weather cooperated with light, offshore winds, keeping oil from the shore. Much of it dissipated before it could reach land. Third, although oil traveled as far as Mission Beach, each city received small amounts of it. Fourth, because of their mutual desire to protect beaches and waterways, and because they bonded during their joint work during Covid, the cities supported and worked well with each other.
Currently, Newport Beach is in the sign off process. Little oil remains overall, but bits are spotted daily, preventing final sign off. The rocky shoreline is particularly difficult to achieve sign off, because it’s difficult to access and environmentally sensitive.
Mike answered a few questions. He explained skimming involves suctioning oil off the water and the oil can extend two to three feet below the surface. He stated the recovered oil is taken to a landfill. He explained the investigation of the spill is ongoing, and it was likely associated with a wind event. He’s confident if a ship caused the damage, it’ll be identified because ships offshore are closely tracked, like how air traffic control tracks planes. It will be years before Newport Beach and impacted businesses recover costs and damages associated with the spill.
Mike selected the raffle winners, Marjorie Collins and Roy Shlemon. Each won $30.
Dr. Bob reports that a recent email from Past District Treasurer Ken Owens that we WILL be getting 100 “playoff” foot ball books for our Club on about the 15th of this month. Therefore, if you want to play, please bring a check to the meeting on the 16th or bring a credit card for purchases for games through early January.
Dec 9 - Kim Turner, founder of Patrick’s Purpose
Foundation, created after her son’s suicide.
Dec 16 - Business meeting at Newport Rib. No guests, please.
Dec 23 - Dark
Dec 30 - Dark
This week we will be at the Sabatino’s Restaurant, 251 Shipyard Way, Cabin D. Lunch will be served at 12:20 pm. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting.Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wed 2 PM if you are planning on attending.