Environment

Refugio oil spill appeal denied setting stage for November trial

Plains All American face multiple criminal counts

Refugio oil spill has legal cases ahead.

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Legal issues connected to the Plains All American pipeline disaster on the Santa Barbara County coastline two years ago are heading to a trial date.

46 counts, three of them felonies were filed against the oil company.

Two misdemeanor charges were filed against one employee, James Buchanon.

The criminal charges were the result of an investigation and indictment by a grand jury.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said a Superior Court decision to go forward with the charges has been upheld by the Appeals Court.  Plains had appealed.   "So all 46 counts still stand. Three are felonies and we are ready to go to trial November first," said Dudley.

The massive spill involved a leak of 142,000 gallons of oil on the land and into the ocean just west of Refugio State Beach.   The broken oil pipeline section did not have an automatic shut off valve. Complaints about a petroleum odor in the coastal area began in the morning of May 19, 2015. It wasn't until after 1 p.m. that the oil leak had been detected and by then it was coming out into the ocean.

Clean up efforts involve multiple agencies, and the Plains All American Pipeline crews.  In some areas each rock on the beach was scrubbed and washed down.

24th District Congressman Salud Carbajal spoke in the House of Representatives saying he wanted funding to continue for ongoing pipeline inspections.  "The full extend of the damage to our economy and environment and to our region won't be fully known for years."


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