Judge approves $230M settlement in California oil spill case

Lawyers announced Thursday that a judge has approved the settlement of a $230 million lawsuit by the owners of a pipeline that dumped more than 140,000 gallons of crude off California into the ocean in 2015.

A federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday granted final approval for the settlement of a class-action suit that indicted All American Pipeline, LP and Plains Pipeline, LP for May 2015 off the Santa Barbara coast.

An underwater pipeline ruptured just north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. All American Pipeline later estimated that 142,800 gallons dropped.

It was the worst California coastal oil spill since 1969. It darkened popular beaches for miles, killed or destroyed hundreds of sea birds, seals and other wildlife, and harmed tourism and fishing.

“Due to failed maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion, pipelines have ruptured and spilled, devastated the fishing industry and destroyed coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County,” said one of the law firms that filed the lawsuit. said in the press statement.

Those who believe they may be entitled to some money have until October 31 to submit claims.

The companies did not accept liability in the settlement agreement, which was reached in May after seven years of legal wrangling.

Federal inspectors found that the plains had made several preventable errors, failed to detect pipeline ruptures quickly and responded too slowly as oil drifted to sea.

Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the expensive cleanup. In 2020, Plains agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government to settle charges of violating security laws. It also agreed to bring its nationwide pipeline system into compliance with federal safety laws.

The plains have applied for permission to build a new pipeline, but it is facing an uphill battle.

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