On October 1, 2021, a catastrophic oil spill occurred off the coast of Long Beach, California. The spill, which was caused by a failure in a pipeline managed by Beta Offshore, a subsidiary of Houston-based Amplify Energy, released a slick that spanned 13 miles. Shortly after commercial divers were hired to investigate the source of the leak and discovered that a 13-inch split in a 4,000-foot section of the pipeline was the cause. This section had been displaced by 105 feet, leading to the failure. The initial spill was estimated to be 126,000 gallons, but officials later estimated that as much as 144,000 gallons may have been released. The US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration informed Amplify Energy that a preliminary investigation suggested that the rupture may have been caused by a cargo ship’s anchor. 2.
The spill had significant environmental and economic impacts. Residents in the area reported smelling toxic fumes, and a ship spotted the spill within hours. The oil slick from this particular spill covered a large area of the ocean and shoreline, posing a threat to a wide range of marine animals. The spill also had the potential to impact the local ecosystem and the food chain, as well as the health of people living in the area.
Cleaning up an oil spill is a complex and costly process, and it can take months or even years to fully remove the oil from the affected area. In the aftermath of the spill, fishing was suspended in the area for two months, which had a significant economic impact on the local fishing industry and related businesses. Additionally, the contamination of the water and the shoreline can have serious environmental consequences, such as harm to wildlife and damage to the ecosystem. It is therefore important for companies to have contingency plans in place to prevent oil spills, and to have the resources and expertise to quickly and effectively respond to spills if they do occur. This can help to minimize the environmental and economic impact of oil spills, and protect the health and livelihoods of those affected.
On September 8, 2022, 3. Amplify Energy and its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to negligently discharging oil into San Pedro Bay. As part of a plea deal, the companies were fined $7.1 million and were required to reimburse $5.8 million to federal programs that were impacted by the spill. The following day, a US District Judge sentenced the company to the terms of the plea deal.
Amplify, as of October 18, 2022, 1 had agreed to pay over $50 million in a settlement to local businesses and residents affected by the spill. Most of the funds will go to the fishing industry, with $34 million set aside for impacted fishers, while another $9 million will go to property owners along the waterfront and $7 million will go to damaged tourism operations. The settlement also includes a plan to prevent future spills, developed by experts hired by the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit. Amplify also agreed to spend at least $250,000 on pipeline-related procedures before the pipeline can resume operations. This is a crucial step to ensure the safety of the community and the environment in the future.