$ 230 million settlement reached over 2015 California oil spill

The owner of an oil pipeline that spewed thousands of barrels of crude oil to the beaches of Southern California in 2015, has agreed to pay $ 230 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed by fishermen and property owners, court documents show.

The Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline agreed to pay $ 184 million to fishermen and fish processors and $ 46 million to coastal property owners in the settlement reached Friday, according to court documents.


The company did not admit liability in the agreement, which follows seven years of legal dispute. The agreement must still undergo a public comment period and needs approval from a federal court. A hearing in the case is scheduled for 1[ads1]0 June.

FILE – Workers prepare for oil spill barrier at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, California, May 21, 2015. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, File) ((AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, fil) / AP Newsroom)

“This settlement should serve as a reminder that pollution simply cannot be a cost in doing business, and that companies will be held accountable for the environmental damage they cause,” said Matthew Preusch, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Plains All American Pipeline officials did not immediately return a message Saturday from the Associated Press for comment.

On May 19, 2015, oil spilled from a corroded pipeline north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles, and spread along the coasts of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.


It was the worst coastal oil spill in California since 1969, and the black popular beaches for miles, killing or overgrowing hundreds of seabirds, seals and other wildlife and damaging tourism and fishing.

A federal investigation said 123,000 gallons were spilled, but other estimates from fluid mechanics experts were as high as 630,000 gallons.

FILE – An oil-covered bird strikes its wings in the middle of Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, California, May 21, 2015. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, File) (. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, fil) / AP Newsroom)

Federal inspectors found that Plains had made several preventable errors, failed to quickly detect the pipeline rupture and reacted too slowly as the oil flowed toward the ocean.

Erasers operating from a control room in Texas more than 1,600 miles away had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak, and unaware that a leak had occurred, the bleeding line resumed after it was turned off, which just did the things. worse found inspectors.


Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the cleanup. The company’s annual report for 2017 estimated the cost of the discharge at $ 335 million, not including lost revenue. The company also revised its plans for handling discharges of pipelines on land.

FILE – Workers monitor site where an underground oil pipeline broke the day before near Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, California, May 20, 2015. (AP Photo / Michael A. Mariant, File) ((AP Photo / Michael A. Mariant, File) / AP Newsroom)

In 2020, Plains agreed to pay $ 60 million to the federal government to settle allegations that it violated security laws. It also agreed to bring its nationwide pipeline system into compliance with federal safety laws.

The spill paralyzed the local oil business because the pipeline was used to transport crude oil to refineries from seven offshore rigs, including three owned by Exxon Mobil, which have been inactive since the spill.


Plains has applied for permission to build a new pipeline, but it is facing an uphill battle.

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The new debate is taking place in the midst of the global climate crisis and while California is moving towards banning gas-powered vehicles and oil drilling, while record-high gas prices have left consumers with sticker shocks at the pumps.

A complex environmental review of the management plan is not expected until October.

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