New charges filed against company responsible for Orange County oil spill

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Friday, September 9, 2022
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Less than a year after 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean off Huntington Beach, prosecutors announced criminal charges against the company they believe contaminated the wetlands and coastlines.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Less than a year after 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean off Huntington Beach, state and local prosecutors announced criminal charges against the company they believe contaminated the wetlands and coastline with clumps of black tar.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday announced that the state Department of Justice and the Orange County Attorney's Office filed half a dozen criminal charges against Amplify Energy, Beta Operating Company and San Pedro Bay Pipeline.

The charges including failing to immediately report a discharge of oil in waters of the state and water pollution.

"Amplify unequivocally hit the snooze button," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "They knew they had a leak. Their leak detection system detected the leak. They shut down the pipeline. They started it up again."

Prosecutors said Amplify must pay the state and county $4.9 million in fines and penalties.

"This is a historic sum believed to be largest state misdemeanor criminal fine in Orange County history," Bonta said.

Under the plea agreement the company will be placed on probation for 12 months and will have to follow new requirements.

"Amplify must train and instruct employees to immediately notify and update all appropriate agencies of potential spills in compliance with California law," Bonta said.

Also, the company must install improved leak protection systems on its pipelines and conduct visual inspections twice a year.

"Others should take note - no matter the industry, from big oil to big pharma, no corporations get a free pass to break the law," Bonta said.

Amplify will also have to pay a $7.1 million federal fine for violating the Clean Water Act.

Prosecutors said a class action lawsuit is also pending.