Texas pipeline company charged with oil spill in California faces millions of fines

Amplifier Energy Corp. and its companies that use less oil and pipeline from Long Beach have been charged with illegal dumping of oil.

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The Houston-based oil company and two of its subsidiaries were charged Wednesday with a spate of water pollution on South California's waterfront and beaches in October, meaning prosecutors at the event said they were partly responsible for failing to perform properly while alarms repeatedly warned workers of a burst pipe.

Amplify Energy Corp. and its companies that use a few oil drills and a pipeline from Long Beach have been fined by a federal judge for one count of illegal oil extraction.

Investigators believe the pipeline weakened when the cargo anchor was blown away by strong winds in January, months before it finally exploded on October 1, spilling about 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the sea.

U.S. prosecutors said the companies were negligent in six ways, including failing to respond to the eight-hour leak system alarms within a 13-hour period that they should have told themselves about their spill and would have minimized the damage. Instead, the pipe was shut off after each alarm and restarted, releasing more oil into the ocean.

Amplify accused an unnamed shipping company of moving the pipeline and said offshore workers were reacting to what they believed to be false because the system was not working properly. It showed potential leaks in the platform where there were no leaks, the company said.

The leak was, in fact, from the bottom of a pipeline 4 miles away, said Amplifay.

"If the workers had known that there was indeed an oil spill in the water, they would have immediately shut down the pipeline," the company said.

The Associated Press reported for the first time last week that the Amplifier leak system was not fully operational. At the time, the company declined to comment on the meaning.

The AP in October reported questions about the company's failure to respond to the alarm.

Divers spotted the oil spill along Huntington Beach near the damaged pipeline

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The first alarm went off at 4:10 p.m. October 1, but the leak was not detected until just before sunrise the next morning and reported around 9 a.m. Coastal residents called 911 to report a strong odor of insults that early afternoon, and a stranded cargo ship reported seeing a large light off the coast. water before sunset.

Local authorities who will demand bloodshed on October 1 did not find it. Coast guard said it was too late for them to go out and look for the spill when they received the report. They left just after sunrise, only to find out when the company reported it.

A few days after the crash, Amplipify CEO Martyn Willsher declined to answer questions at news conferences about the timeline around the crash and reported a 2:30 a.m. alarm. Oct. 2 warned regulators about possible spills. He went on to say that the company did not learn about the wreckage until the boat saw light in the water at 8:09 a.m. that day in the morning.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley said the case reassures residents who experienced a day's outbreak the day before and reported it.

Storms are reported as record storms in central U.S.

"It is unfortunate that they lied to the public during a press conference and made people believe that what they saw with their eyes or smelled or knew was not true," he said. "All we know now is that the company was aware of this, and the alarms went off as they should, and no one was doing anything."

Even after the eighth and final alarm went off, the pipeline went into operation about an hour early in the morning, prosecutors said.

Pipeline safety lawyer Bill Caram said the lawsuit painted a picture of the company negligently.

"I understand that there is something wrong with the leak system but this is our precious coastline," said Caram, director of Bellingham, Washington-based Pipeline Safety Trust. "The fact that they kept pushing the snooze button and ignoring the alarms, they stopped and started this pipeline and all the time the oil leaks in the Pacific Ocean are reckless and bad."

Prosecutors also found that the pipeline had fewer staff members and staff were exhausted and not adequately trained in the leak detection system.

The description of the case of the company's employees as they are tired points to a long-standing industry problem, said plumbing expert Ramanan Krishnamoorti of the University of Houston.

"Fatigue and overworked employees are mature and modest and have no excuses," he said. "This has often been shown to be one of the most important risks."

It is not clear why it took so long for a 1/2-inch thick line to leak after an apparent incident, or that another collision or other incident resulted in a burst and collapse.

The spill hit the shores of Huntington Beach and forced the city's beaches to be closed for a week and more off the coast of Orange County. Fishing in the affected area resumed recently, after testing for certified fish did not have unsafe oil toxin levels.

If convicted, the case lasts five years for a company trial and a fine of up to millions of dollars.