Massive oil spill off California was reported Friday, reports show, but at-risk public wasn’t told

As millions of Californians descended on Orange County’s famed beaches on a blazing hot Saturday, they had no idea a massive oil spill happened the night before. 

Federal and state authorities were aware of the spill by Friday evening, official spill reports show. And National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites spotted an oily “anomaly” mushrooming in inky Pacific waters through the night.

But early Saturday, with winds blowing the slick away from the coast, officials chose not to inform the general public. A military air show in Huntington Beach went on as planned, with an estimated 1.5 million visitors attending. More visitors  escaping inland temperatures in the high ’90s flocked to Newport Beach and other prized coastal beaches.

By nightfall, winds had shifted, and so had authorities. Officials told reporters a pipeline had ruptured and it looked bad, with at least 125,000 gallons of crude oil headed straight toward the coast.

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