Oil spill deal reached with California companies

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This aerial image taken with a drone shows the beach closed after the oil grounded in Newport Beach, California on October 7, 2021. Amplify Energy says it has reached a settlement with tour operators, fishermen and other companies who sued the oil spilled off the southern California coast last year. (AP Photo/Ringo HW Chiu, File)

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A pipeline operator said it has reached a settlement with Southern California tourism businesses, fishermen and other businesses that filed a lawsuit after an offshore crude oil spill off the coast last year near Huntington Beach.

Amplify Energy Corp., owner of the pipeline that ruptured and faces a criminal charge for its oversight, said in a statement that the claims were settled as part of the class action lawsuit filed by the companies affected by the spill. about 25,000 gallons of crude in October. the Pacific Ocean.

The company did not say how much the companies would be paid, but said its insurance policies would cover the cost of the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a federal court.

“While we are unable to provide additional details at this time, we negotiated in good faith and believe we have reached a reasonable and fair resolution,” said Martyn Willsher, President and CEO of Amplify. , in the press release.

The ruptured pipeline sent drops of crude oil ashore in Huntington Beach and other coastal communities.

Although less severe than initially feared, the spill about four miles offshore shut down beaches for a week and fisheries for more than a month, oiled birds and threatened wetlands that communities strive to restore.

Lawyers for the suing companies said in a statement that the settlement included monetary relief, but they did not provide details. The agreement does not apply to ship operators accused of dragging anchors into port and causing damage to the pipeline months before the spill.

“All rights to continue to pursue claims against the Vessel Related Entities are expressly reserved by both the Class Plaintiffs and the Amplify Entities,” the statement read.

The settlement also does not resolve Houston-based Amplify’s claims against an organization that helps oversee shipping traffic.

Amplify claims that two ships during a January 2021 storm dragged their anchors across the pipeline that carried crude from offshore oil rigs to shore.

Amplify is also facing a criminal charge related to the pipeline leak.

U.S. prosecutors accused Amplify and two of its subsidiaries of illegally dumping oil and said the companies failed to respond to eight leak detection system alarms over a 13-hour period that should have alerted them to the leak. spill. Amplify said workers believed these were false alerts.

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