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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 18th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 3

Plains All American agrees to pay $60 million for 2015 spill

By ZAC EZZONE

The company responsible for an oil spill that occurred five years ago near Santa Barbara reached a civil settlement with the federal government that requires it to pay more than $60 million in penalties and damages.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Plains All American Pipeline after the company's pipeline near Refugio State Beach spilled nearly 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the ocean, killing birds, fish, and other marine life, according to the agency's statement.

"Today's settlement shows federal and local governments working in partnership to hold industry fairly accountable," said Bruce Gelber, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The agreement will also promote public health and safety and protect the environment for local communities."

According to the federal agency's statement, the oil spill was the result of the company's failure to address external corrosion on the pipeline. The agency states the spill was worsened by the company's failure to respond promptly to the release.

This settlement comes almost a year after Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Herman ordered the company to pay $3.3 million in fines for the same oil spill. The fines were imposed following a September 2018 trail where a jury found Plains All American guilty of one felony and eight misdemeanors. According to county District Attorney Joyce Dudley, the court found that Plains All American knew or should have known that the pipeline would rupture.

Two years after the spill at Refugio State Beach, Plains All American announced its plans to replace the pipeline. The replacement pipeline would traverse 123 miles and three counties, including Santa Barbara. In an interview with the Sun in early 2019, a representative from Plains All American said this project would not result in any new oil production, but would only resume previous production that ceased after the spill.�

Two public meetings about it were held in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties in February 2019 to discuss this replacement project. In March 2019, staff from both counties began working on a draft environmental impact report for the project, which would be presented for public circulation and comment once completed.








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