- Plains All American Pipeline settled a $230 million case with fishers and properties in California.
- Around 123,000 gallons of oil spilled on Refugio beach in 2015, causing ecological devastation.
- “Pollution just can’t be a cost of doing business,” attorney Matthew Preusch told AP.
An oil pipeline company has reached a $230 million settlement with California fishermen and fish processors after a disastrous 2015 oil spill in the state, court documents show.
Plains All American Pipeline (PAAP) will pay $184 million to fishers and $46 million to property after a spill at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California on May 19, 2015.
The plaintiffs pored over 50 expert reports and more than 1.5 million pages of documents to make their case. PAAP did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment outside normal working hours.
Around 123,000 gallons of oil spilled from a corroded pipe into one of the most biologically diverse areas of the West Coast. Some estimates put the figure even higher.
The spill devastated the local economy and caused the deaths or fouling of hundreds of seabirds, seals and other wildlife and hitting tourism and fishing.
The pipe has remained idle since, hurting the area’s oil industry where Exxon Mobil operated on three platforms.
Fishers were granted damages based on a calculation of potential lost catch from the spill, while 3,000 coastal properties that experienced oiling and other properties adjacent to the beach will also receive a settlement.
Houston-based PAAP estimated the costs of the clean-up at nearly $335 million in their 2017 annual report. It pledged a further $60 million to the Federal Government in 2020 in penalties, clean-up costs, and natural resource assessment costs and damages.
At the time, US Vice President and then-California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, said: “This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife.”
Matthew Preusch, an attorney from Keller Rohrback LLP, which represented the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press: “This settlement should serve as a reminder that pollution just can’t be a cost of doing business, and that corporations will be held accountable for environmental damage they cause.”
Keller Rohrback LLP didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment outside normal working hours.