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An oil pipeline leak off the coast of Southern California has caused as much as 144,000 gallons of oil to spew into the Pacific Ocean, coating local wildlife habitats, shutting down miles of beaches, and posing a significant human health risk. The October 2nd breach occurred about five miles off Huntington Beach in Orange County and stems from a pipeline leak from a facility offshore operated by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp.
In the days since, oil has reached land as water desecration continues to spread. Huntington Beach has been the hardest hit area, with oil fouling some marshes and wetlands. Oil has reached San Diego County and could reach the Mexican border. The chemicals that will likely be used to clean the oil pollution will compound the threat to the environment. Miles of beaches and coastal areas have been closed during the aftermath. Officials are reporting that these closures might last for months, leaving business owners and residents to confront an ongoing economic and ecological disaster.
Health officials have warned people not to swim, surf, or exercise by the beach because of potential health hazards. People have also been urged not to fish in the area since the waters are considered toxic. California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Orange County to assist with cleanup efforts. The California Department of Justice is investigating the spill.
The Joseph Saveri Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit on October 11, 2021, in federal court in California against defendants Amplify Energy Corporation (Amplify); Beta Operating Company, LLC (Beta Offshore); San Pedro Bay Pipeline Company (SPB Pipeline); and other corporations, on behalf of individuals and businesses whose livelihoods and quality of living have been and will be impacted by the October 2 pipeline leak and oil spill.
Plaintiff operates a bait and tackle business in Costa Mesa, California, and derives over 90% of its revenue from tackle and fishing gear used for saltwater fishing in the Pacific Ocean. It outfits many of the sport fishing boats that operate out of Orange County, a significant sport fishing industry. These boats and other customers of plaintiff depend upon access to clean ocean water and now can no longer fish in this polluted, closed area.
Plaintiff’s economic setback is a direct, legal, and foreseeable consequence of the alleged wrongful acts and/or omissions of defendants. Amplify owns Beta Offshore, which operates the 17-mile pipeline, owned by SBP, that ruptured on October 2. Oversight led to the rupture, and defendants’ delay in reporting it to the National Response Center—in violation of spill-response guidelines— increased the spill’s broader environmental impact and the reduced quality of life of those relying on the coast for their livelihood.
Defendants have a continuing record of violations and non-compliance regarding oil extraction and distribution activities. Also, according to reports, well over fifty vessels were waiting to berth in San Pedro Bay following the spill. This backlog resulted in larger ships anchoring closer to pipelines, internet cables, and other hazards due to a lack of space. Preliminary reports indicate the rupture may have been caused by a passing ship’s anchor that hooked the pipeline, causing a partial tear. Despite knowledge of this situation and the reasonable chance of such an occurrence during port congestion, defendants failed to reasonably inspect the affected pipeline. Defendants were aware that the ports were beset by long backups. Yet, they failed to implement proper procedures to protect against the increased risk of damage to the pipeline nor to remedy the unstable pipeline adequately and reasonably through effective regular inspections.
“The Orange County oil spill is an environmental and economic tragedy that is devastating to many individuals and businesses who rely on the area’s beautiful coastline for their livelihood and recreational activities. Defendants have a long history of violations and non-compliance with industry standards, and their inexcusable delay in reporting and handling the October 2nd spill has made a dire situation much worse. They must be held accountable. We are grateful for the opportunity to help Ketcham and a proposed class obtain economic and injunctive relief during this disastrous time for Orange County coastal residents,” said Steven Williams of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm.
Plaintiffs seek class certification and a favorable judgment against defendants jointly and severally for economic damages, punitive and/or exemplary damages, creation of a fund to environmentally and economically monitor the marine habitat in the affected area, and other relief the court or a jury may find necessary.
This widespread predicament can and is affecting many, including:
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