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Tar balls found on San Diego beaches

Tar balls were spotted in Mission Beach Friday. Sightings also occurred in Oceanside and Carlsbad.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Oceanside Lifeguards found several tar balls on the beach Wednesday night and reported them to the US Coast Guard and CA Wildlife Agencies. 

According to the county, tar balls were also spotted in Carlsbad. 

Crews fanned out along the southern California coast Friday.

The Unified Command, which is made up of several different local, state and federal agencies, said they're continuing to do everything they can to prevent the oil from Huntington Beach from becoming a big problem in San Diego. 

The state installed boom barriers to prevent oil from seeping into the Agua Hedionda Lagoon --which proves intake water for the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. 

According to officials at the plant, as of Friday afternoon, there were no signs of any oil.

The following statement was released by Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority Thursday: 

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant continues to operate normally with no oil detected at the site, and there are no plans to shut it down. If operational changes are required, the Water Authority could shift water deliveries to ensure continued water service to its member agencies countywide. Per State of California requirements in the facility’s drinking water permit, the desalination plant will shut down if the hydrocarbon concentration of source seawater reaches 300 parts per billion.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely, including ongoing testing for oil in the intake waters of the desal plant. And we continue to closely coordinate with the City of Carlsbad, the County of San Diego, Orange County, state agencies and others involved in the emergency response to ensure the plant remains a vital, drought-proof water source for San Diego County.”

Meanwhile, according to Oceanside officials, Shoreline Cleaning Assessment Teams (SCAT) continue to examine Oceanside beaches. An environmental cleanup team will take care of any traces of tar balls.

Officials said they have preemptively deployed cabling in case they need to boom off the Oceanside Harbor inlet.

At this time, the city hasn't determined if the tar balls are from the spill or from natural means, which sometimes occurs. The sheen they are observing from fly-overs is still at least five miles offshore and to the north of San Onofre. 

San Diego County Health and Human Services issued a warning, advising of the dangers of the tar balls saying they could be carcinogenic, may cause a rash, so be careful and don't touch them.

The county is trying to be proactive.

"We immediately requested shoreline assessment teams," said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher. "They deployed and we should know soon if it is tied to the Orange County spill, which I think is highly likely. At that point, we would declare a state of emergency."

The Coast Guard is on point too coordinating how best to protect San Diego shores.

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is employing sensitive site strategies; laying out booms to keep the oil slicks and tar balls away.

The weather is a key factor with strong winds accompanying the showers that were moving in Thursday night driving the surf toward the beaches.

"Friday afternoon is gonna be the time we see the most wave action or the roughest seas," said Alex Tardy, National Weather Service meteorologist. 

But it's a few days later that meteorologists expect even stronger winds to blow.

"And that wind's gonna be whipping down from the north so it's gonna be a cold wind and that wind is gonna really stir up our seas, our waves and the windiest conditions look to be on Tuesday," said Tardy. 

On Sunday, it was reported that a pipeline leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the water off Southern California, which was split open and apparently dragged more than 100 feet along the ocean floor, possibly by a ship’s anchor, officials said Tuesday.

The spill sent up to gallons of heavy crude into the ocean off Huntington Beach, and it then washed onto miles of beaches and protected marshland. The beaches could remain closed for weeks or longer, a major hit to the local economy. Coastal fisheries in the area are closed to commercial and recreational fishing.

WATCH RELATED: Massive oil spill kills wildlife, closes beaches in Huntington and Newport Beach (October 2021)