Pipeline company facing criminal charges over Refugio oil spill

May 17, 2016

oil pipelineA California state grand jury has indicted Plains All American Pipeline and one of its employees over last year’s oil spill in Santa Barbara County. The company announced the indictment in a press release Tuesday morning.

The indictment contains a total of 46 counts, 36 of which relate to wildlife that was allegedly killed. Ten counts counts relate to the release of crude oil or reporting of the release, according to Plains All American.

On May 19, 2015, a pipe belonging to Plains All American ruptured near Refugio State Beach, causing about 100,000 gallons of oil to spill. About 21,000 gallons of oil flowed into a culvert and then into a ditch that drains into the ocean. The spill spread over 9 miles of coastline, mostly consisting of sandy beaches.

Following the oil spill, federal regulators found the pipeline had sustained extensive external corrosion prior to bursting.

Both the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office launched criminal investigations into the oil spill. District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Attorney General Kamala Harris are holding a joint press conference in Santa Barbara Tuesday to discuss the oil spill.

Plains All American released a statement saying it is deeply disappointed Dudley and Harris chose to pursue criminal charges against the company and one of its employees.

“Plains believes that neither the company nor any of its employees engaged in any criminal behavior at any time in connection with this accident, and that criminal charges are unwarranted. We will vigorously defend ourselves against these charges and are confident we will demonstrate that the charges have no merit and represent an inappropriate attempt to criminalize and unfortunate accident.”



  1. Russ J says:

    Kamala and Joyce should be prosecuted for operating a motor vehicle, heating their homes and flying on planes.

    (3) 17 Total Votes - 10 up - 7 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    I’d be concerned about which regulatory agency did not do their job. Don’t they do inspections, third party certification? From where I stand, with experience in hazmat, this is all about generating a crime for the fine.

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
  3. south says:

    Kamala needs ink for her run for senate. Plains is the perfect target. Crummy timing for them as she will never take a plea and will want to prosecute it herself. This might work out well for them however, since she has little courtroom experience.

    (6) 22 Total Votes - 14 up - 8 down
  4. agnative says:

    Harris is such a joke, I cannot begin. Who is she going to prosecute for natural release of renewable fossil fuels? I was picking tar off my feet in the 70s.

    (6) 26 Total Votes - 16 up - 10 down
  5. Snoid says:

    Oh ahhh…the tragedy of the century!!!!!!!!!!!. Investigate with ruthless vigor and press those criminal charges against an individuals actions for what was all but a guaranteed NON intentional incident. Great Job A/G Harris, now how about getting off your duffer and investigating and pressing charges for what IS unquestionable intentional deception, lies and the theft of millions in public funds with environmental damages of a similar caliber by a local wanna be Engineer we all know of and his sidekick Seitz.

    (10) 24 Total Votes - 17 up - 7 down
    • r0y says:

      Just remember, this isn’t for thinking people, this is all a narrative for the highly ignorant voters who are easily duped by the simplest of things. Win, lose, it doesn’t matter. This is just a bullet-point on an election mailer showing her “fighting for the environment” or whatever spin it ends up with.

      Everything we see in “public” is a lie today. Everything. We have become a culture of lies.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  6. Mariposa says:

    All depends on government v Plains’ definition of criminal.

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  7. Rambunctious says:

    “criminalize an unfortunate accident”

    That right there is far more damaging and dangerous than any oil spill.

    (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down

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