latest news Amplify Energy Reaches Interim Settlement Agreement in OC Oil Spill Lawsuit

latest news Amplify Energy Reaches Interim Settlement Agreement in OC Oil Spill Lawsuit
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The Texas-based company that operates the pipeline that sent at least 25,000 gallons of crude gushing into Southern California waters in a spill last fall has tentatively agreed to settle more than a dozen lawsuits filed by business owners and residents of Orange County.

Houston-based Amplify Energy Corp. chief executive Martyn Willsher did not disclose terms of the settlement, but said in a statement Thursday that the proposed deal would be a “reasonable and fair resolution” to the disastrous spill. .

The settlement agreements still need to be approved by the court. The company’s insurance policy would cover the cost of the payments, Amplify Energy said.

The agreement would resolve civil lawsuits filed in federal court by landowners, business owners and residents who said they suffered financial effects from the October spill. These plaintiffs include coastal landowners in Laguna Beach, a surf school in Huntington Beach, a bait and tackle store in Seal Beach, and several groups of fishing and seafood companies.

Willsher said Amplify plans to “vigorously” pursue legal action against the shipping companies that own and operate two container ships accused of dragging their anchors across the ocean floor and damaging the pipeline. , resulting in spillage.

The US Coast Guard said an anchor hitting and dragging the pipeline could have made the conduit more vulnerable to further damage or environmental stressors.

Amplify has accused two shipping companies and their subsidiaries – based in Switzerland, Panama, Liberia and Greece – of improperly allowing their ships to remain in San Pedro Bay anchorages during a bad winter storm. in January 2021.

Driven by 60mph winds and 17ft waves, container ships MSC Danit and Cosco Beijing dragged their anchors “in areas where federal law prohibits anchoring,” Amplify lawyers said in a statement. complaint filed in February against shipping companies.

Amplify is seeking punitive damages, as well as reimbursement for legal fees, costs to repair and replace broken portions of the pipeline, and revenue lost while the pipeline was out of service.

Willsher said Amplify is also pursuing its lawsuit against the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which monitors and directs traffic in busy San Pedro Bay, alleging the nonprofit should have known about the contrails. ‘anchor and inform the company.

Amplify has lobbied to require the Marine Exchange to notify underwater property owners of any potential anchor slips within 24 hours.

In late July, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 behind closed doors to approve a nearly $1 million settlement agreement with Amplify.

In exchange for agreeing not to sue the oil company again, the county agreed to a payment of $956,352 to cover cleanup costs, including legal fees and wages for workers who worked to keep the oil out of sensitive wetlands.

Supervisor Katrina Foley described the settlement as a “win for taxpayers” that covered the county’s immediate costs. Supervisor Andrew Do, the only board member to vote against the deal, said a deal could be premature.

“We may have claims that may not materialize for years,” Do said at the time. He wanted, he said, the county to “take our time.”

This story will be updated.

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