Business owners along OC beaches say impact of oil spill is 'devastating'

More class-action lawsuits are being filed on behalf of business owners who say they're losing money due to the spill.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Oil has been washing up on Southern California beaches and wetlands all week since a leak in an underwater pipeline from an offshore platform sent tens of thousands of gallons of heavy crude into the ocean waters.

Now, more class-action lawsuits are being filed on behalf of business owners operating along the beaches who say they're losing money due to the spill.

The latest case was filed on behalf of Banzai Surf Company - a Huntington Beach surf school.

"It's October," said the school's owner, Jaz Kaner, during a Thursday afternoon news conference. "If you ask any surfer, October is prime time for surfing in California. This is when the crowds go home, the sun is out, [and] the wind is perfect."

Another business owner said the impact has been "devastating" and said he was forced to lay off 20 employees since the spill.

The first federal lawsuit linked to the disaster was filed late Monday.

The spill, publicly announced Saturday, apparently occurred from an offshore oil production facility owned by Houston-based Amplify Energy.

The proposed class-action suit, filed in Los Angeles federal court against the corporation and its Beta Offshore division, includes claims for monetary damages, injunctive relief, response costs, and medical monitoring. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Peter Moses Gutierrez Jr., who owns a disc jockey company that regularly performs along Huntington Beach.

He alleges in the complaint that he is losing and will continue to lose a substantial amount of his DJ business due to the closure of the beach and other consequences of the spill.

Gutierrez also alleges he has been, or will be, exposed to toxic oil contaminants.

"After years fighting for business owners and residents devastated by the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast and other oil spill victims around the country, we understand the terrible impact these events have on the environment, wildlife, and people,'' said the plaintiff's attorney Alex Straus.

READ MORE | 1st federal lawsuit filed in massive leak as cleanup efforts continue
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The first federal lawsuit linked to the disaster was filed in an effort to recover damages for those affected by the oil spill off the Orange County coast.



The amount of oil leaked from a ruptured underwater pipeline is still unknown, though experts say the amount should be easy to calculate.

While there isn't a firm tally, plenty of numbers have been floated. Officials on Thursday also updated their estimates of the size of the spill.

Initial estimates in the days after the spill were that at least 126,000 gallons of oil had leaked into the ocean. Officials are now saying a lower number is within the range of possibilities but the analysis continues.

Authorities say their current estimates range from a minimum of about 25,000 gallons to a worst-case scenario of more than 131,000 gallons.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore said five federal and state agencies assessed pipeline data, adding that's a maximum scenario and has not been confirmed.

Gov. Gavin Newsom offered some optimism about the size of the spill when he visited the site on Tuesday. But he cautioned the cleanup still requires massive resources and residents still can't fully use their beloved beaches or swim and surf in the waters in the affected area that stretches about 15 miles from Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach.

"You still have the spread, even if it's substantially less gallons, that have to be cleaned up," Newsom said. "So this is going to take time to clean up."



The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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