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Page writes: "The company responsible for spilling 140,000 gallons of oil on the Pacific coastline near Santa Barbara, California, has been indicted on 46 charges, including four felony charges. One employee of Plains All American Pipeline was also indicted."

In this May 21, 2015 file photo, workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., two days after a ruptured pipeline created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years. (photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)
In this May 21, 2015 file photo, workers prepare an oil containment boom at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., two days after a ruptured pipeline created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years. (photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)


Oil Company to Face Felony Charges Over Massive California Spill

By Samantha Page, ThinkProgress

18 May 16

 

he company responsible for spilling 140,000 gallons of oil on the Pacific coastline near Santa Barbara, California, has been indicted on 46 charges, including four felony charges. One employee of Plains All American Pipeline was also indicted.

The company faces up to $2.8 million in fines plus additional costs and penalties, which would be split between the state and Santa Barbara County. The employee, 41-year-old environmental and regulatory compliance specialist James Buchanan, faces up to three years in jail.

“Crimes against our environment must be met with swift action and accountability,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. “This conduct is criminal and today’s charges serve as a powerful reminder of the consequences that flow from jeopardizing the well-being of our ecosystems and public health.”

The charges come after months of grand jury testimony following the spill last May after a pipeline running along the California coastline ruptured. The spill led to the temporary closure of fisheries and two beaches, as well as the death of some local wildlife.

The investigation found that the pipeline had corroded to 1/16th of an inch before the rupture occurred, but there are also several charges relating to Plains All-American's failure to properly notify local and state officials about the leak.

Environmentalists applauded Tuesday's indictment, saying that it should serve as a warning to other industry operators.

"Let's hope it prompts the entire oil industry to take a hard look at the legal risks and enormous environmental dangers of operating pipelines and offshore platforms in one of the world’s most beautiful and fragile coastal environments," Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

Plains All American Pipeline, for its part, "believes that neither the company nor any of its employees engaged in any criminal behavior at any time in connection with this accident, and that criminal charges are unwarranted." The company said in a statement that it will "vigorously defend ourselves against these charges and are confident we will demonstrate that the charges have no merit and represent an inappropriate attempt to criminalize an unfortunate accident."

Perhaps ironically, the indictment was handed down on the same week that another oil company, Shell, leaked 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There is no word yet on whether that incident will lead to a criminal investigation.

When BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, killing 11 people and causing the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the company was charged with manslaughter and gross negligence. BP was eventually ordered to pay $20 billion in fines and damages.

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+13 # Buddha 2016-05-18 14:30
The ones who really should be indicted are Gov Brown and the rest of the corporatists in Sacramento, who happily take in millions of dollars from Big Oil and pay them back by allowing them to keep fracking in our fault-line-cris s-crossed state and worse, fracking in our cities, and drilling off of our coasts. How many "Santa Barbara Oil spills" and "Porter Ranch gas leaks" wake-up calls do we need??? California needs to lead the way on ending our addiction to Fossil Fuels, not be the 3rd largest fossil-fuel producing state in the nation.
 
 
+5 # ericlane 2016-05-19 03:43
Mother Earth is crying.
 
 
-3 # MidwestTom 2016-05-19 06:30
The Earth must be in full depression mode when it looks at the number of people on earth today, and then discovers that one group wants to control the world by out reproducing all non-group members, by allowing men to have four wives, and turning wives, and all women, into nothing but baby machines.
 
 
+4 # Buddha 2016-05-19 10:26
Quoting MidwestTom:
...discovers that one group wants to control the world by turning wives, and all women, into nothing but baby machines.


You mean Conservative Religious-Right anti-choice Christians, of course?
 
 
+9 # HowardMH 2016-05-19 08:32
$2.8 million in fines, pocket change or maybe less.
 

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