A judge has approved a $230 million settlement by the owners of a pipeline that spilled more than 140,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean off California in 2015, attorneys announced Thursday.
A federal judge in Los Angeles gave final approval Tuesday to a settlement of a class action lawsuit that blamed All American Pipeline, LP and Plains Pipeline, LP for the May 2015 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.
The corroded undersea pipeline ruptured north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. All American Pipeline later estimated that 142,800 gallons were spilled.
It was the worst oil spill on the California coast since 1969. It blackened popular beaches for miles, killed or littered hundreds of seabirds, seals and other wildlife, and damaged tourism and fisheries.
“Due to unsuccessful maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion, the pipeline ruptured and spilled, devastating the fishing industry and littering coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County,” said a news release from the law firms that filed the lawsuit.
People who think they may be entitled to some of the money have until Oct. 31 to file claims.
The companies did not admit liability in the settlement agreement, which was reached in May after seven years of legal wrangling.
Federal inspectors found that Plains had made several preventable errors, failing to detect the pipeline rupture quickly and responding too slowly as the oil flowed into the ocean.
Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the expensive cleanup. In 2020, Plains agreed to pay $60 million to the federal government to settle allegations that it violated security laws. It also agreed to bring its national pipeline system into compliance with federal safety laws.
Plains has applied for permission to build a new pipeline, but faces an uphill battle.