On February 9, shipping companies declared a $45 million settlement for the 2021 Orange County oil spill for the area’s residents. The spill that happened because of a cracked pipeline was detected on October 1, 2021, damaging businesses and properties.
The pipeline runs between the Long Beach Harbor and the Elly drilling platform. This year a containership with its anchor down had dragged it for 100 ft. The pipeline had cracked open, spewing 3000 barrels of crude oil, approximately 126000 gallons of oil, into the sea. This is greater than any significant oil spill.
Such was the scale that a state of Emergency was declared in Orange County on October 5, 2021. Despite the beaches being cleaned up and reopened in a week, the economic loss of this was massive.
Several lawsuits were filed against the government for not revising the platform plans since the 1980s while the wildlife and fish department worked with the coast guard and the Orange counties to clean up the beach. Meanwhile, the government filed cases against Amplify Energy Corp and their subsidiaries, San Pedro Bay Pipeline Co. and Beta Operating Co.
In July 2022, Amplify group first reached an initial settlement of $1 million with the Orange County Board, which was followed by an additional fine of $12.9 million to the Coast Guard in September 2022. Then they paid $50 million to the property and business owners in the area.
However, shipping companies like M/V Beijing, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co, Doredellas Finance Corp, V. Ships Greece Ltd, Costamare Shipping Co., and others whose ships worsened the situation by crossing over and hitting and damaging the pipeline refused any ownership.
Finally, after months of piled-up evidence, the companies have agreed to pay—ships like MV Beijing and MSC Danit, who have hit the pipeline with their anchors in January 2021. Doredellas and Capetanissa are working on a settlement to prevent such situations.
Property and business owners in the area will get a $100 million settlement along with Amplify’s October settlement. Amplify has welcomed this move by the shipping companies stating that they are happy to see companies taking up the responsibility.
Meanwhile, Huntington Beach residents are also pleased with the settlement.
With the $45 million settlement finalized soon, other settlements will likely be drawn this year.
References: Washington Post, California Globe