HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — The owner of an undersea oil pipeline that spilled some 25,000 gallons of crude into the ocean off Southern California last year will pay nearly $1 million in cleanup costs .
The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to accept a proposed claim settlement with Amplify Energy Corp. regarding the costs of dealing with last October’s spill off Huntington Beach.
The ruptured pipeline spilled oil, equal to about 94,600 liters, about 4 miles offshore. Although less severe than initially feared, the spill shut down beaches for a week and fishing for more than a month, oiled birds and threatened wetlands that Orange County communities are striving to to restore.
Investigators believe the San Pedro Bay pipeline that carried crude oil from offshore oil rigs to the coast was weakened when a freighter’s anchor snagged it in high winds in January 2021, months before its final break on October 1.
Houston-based Amplify Energy sued two container ship operators and an organization that helps oversee shipping traffic, saying they failed to prevent the spill. The lawsuit alleges that in January 2021, two ships dragged their anchors across the pipeline.
The $956,352 settlement with Orange County includes about $238,000 for the county’s public works department, which built sand berms and placed dams to prevent oil from polluting sensitive wetlands, reports the Orange County Register.
The money will also go to the county’s health agency, the sheriff’s department that runs Harbor Patrol, and reimburse the county for legal fees and hiring contractors and environmental consultants.
Meanwhile, Amplify and two subsidiaries were indicted by a federal grand jury last year for misdemeanor unlawful oil dumping. The indictment alleges that tired workers failed to act properly when repeated alarms signaled an offshore pipeline rupture and continued to operate the pipeline for hours.
Amplify said company employees at home and abroad believed they were responding to false alarms from a faulty system.