West Coast
Workers with Patriot Environmental clean oil from rocks in Laguna Beach on Sunday, November 6, 2022. The tar is from the 2021 oil spill. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

CA - Regulator proposes $3.4 million fine over 2021 oil pipeline leak off OC Coast

An energy company should be fined nearly $3.4 million for safety violations involving a 2021 oil pipeline spill that fouled Southern California beaches, a federal regulator said.

For more, see: Key things to know about Huntington Beach oil spill

Amplify Energy Corp. ignored 83 alarms indicating the offshore pipeline had leaked and failed to notify federal authorities or shut down the pipeline to San Pedro Bay until 17 hours after the first alarms, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in a letter proposing the fine that was sent April 6 to the company’s president.

An email to the Houston-based firm seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

The pipeline carries oil to shore from platforms in San Pedro Bay, near the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.

The October 2021 spill of 25,000 gallons of crude oil created a miles-wide sheen in the ocean and sent blobs of crude ashore, primarily affecting the cities of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. It further shuttered beaches for a week and fisheries for more than a month, oiled birds and threatened area wetlands.

Amplify Energy said the spill was linked to damage from two ships it accused of dragging anchors and striking the pipeline during a January 2021 storm. It reached an $85 million settlement with the vessel companies.

Southern California fishermen, tourism companies and property owners sued Amplify and the shipping vessels seeking compensation for their losses. Amplify agreed to pay $50 million and the vessel companies agreed to pay $45 million to settle those lawsuits.

Amplify also reached a plea deal with federal authorities for negligently discharging crude.

The company announced last month that it received approval from federal regulatory agencies to restart the pipeline.

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