Judge approves $230 million settlement in California oil spill case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has approved a $230 million lawsuit by the owners of a pipeline that spilled more than 140,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean off California in 2015, lawyers announced Thursday.
A federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday finalized a settlement in a class action lawsuit that blamed All American Pipeline, LP and Plains Pipeline, LP for the May 2015 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The corroded underwater pipeline collapsed just north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. All American Pipeline later estimated that 142,800 gallons were spilled.
It was the worst oil spill to hit the California coast since 1969. It blackened miles of popular beaches, killed or polluted hundreds of seabirds, seals and other wildlife, and hurt tourism and fisheries.
“Due to failed maintenance and extensive corrosion of the pipeline, the pipeline ruptured, spilling, devastating the fishing industry and polluting coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County,” the law firms that filed the lawsuit said in a press release.
People who believe they are entitled to some of the money have until October 31 to make claims.
The companies admitted no liability in the settlement agreement, reached in May after seven years of litigation.
Federal inspectors found that Plains had made several unforced mistakes, not being quick to detect the pipeline rupture and being too slow to respond as oil spilled toward the ocean.
Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the costly cleanup. In 2020, Plains agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government to settle allegations of violating safety laws. It also agreed to bring its statewide pipeline system into compliance with federal safety laws.
Plains has applied for permission to build a new pipeline but faces an uphill battle.
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