2015 Refugio Oil Spill: Plains All American Pipeline agrees to pay $230 million settlement to fishing industry and coastal residents

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY (KABC) — The owner of an oil pipeline that spilled thousands of barrels of crude oil onto Southern California’s beaches in 2015 has agreed to a settlement.

Plains All American Pipeline is paying $230 million to fishermen and property owners affected by the May 2015 leak caused by a corroded pipeline north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County.

According to court documents, $184 million will go to fishermen and fish processors, while $46 million will go to coastal property owners in Friday’s settlement.

The agreement still has to be approved by the federal court. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 10th.

The company has not admitted liability in the agreement, which follows seven years of litigation.

The more than 123,000 gallons spilled on May 19, 2015 reached as far as Los Angeles County.

It was the worst oil spill on the California coast since 1969, blackening miles of popular beaches, killing or polluting hundreds of seabirds, seals and other wildlife, and hurting tourism and fisheries.

Federal inspectors found that Plains All American Pipeline had made several unforced mistakes, failed to quickly detect the pipeline rupture, and was too slow to respond as oil spilled toward the ocean.

Plains employees, working from a control room in Texas more than 1,000 miles away, had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak and, unaware a spill had occurred, restarted the bleed line after being turned off, which only made matters worse, the inspectors found.

Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the cleanup.

In 2020, Plains agreed to pay the federal government $60 million 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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https://abc7.com/refugio-oil-spill-2015-plains-all-american-pipeline-settlement-agreement/11851527/ 2015 Refugio Oil Spill: Plains All American Pipeline agrees to pay $230 million settlement to fishing industry and coastal residents

Chrissy Callahan

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