Money and Business

Oil spill charges still facing Plains All American and one employee

Court hearing held behind closed doors

Oil spill legal action moving forward

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A status report in court on the Plains All American oil disaster in May of 2015 along the Santa Barbara County coast is moving the case forward and the likelihood or a trial.

The broken oil pipeline caused onshore and offshore impacts, including biological concerns that were studied for months over hundreds of miles.

A Grand Jury came back with 46 criminal charges including four felonies against Plains All American Pipeline. There were also two misdemeanor charges against the one employee named in the incident,  James Buchanon, who was in court today.

The Santa Barbara Superior Court hearing was closed to the press and the public today while Judge James Herman reviewed the case and set a new date for April 6.  The hearing was private to protect some of the details in the event a jury will be chosen for a trial in the future.

The spill released 142,000 gallons of oil on ranch land where the pipe was buried, and down a coastal culvert into the ocean.   Fire officials were notified of a smell in the area in the morning hours, but the spill was not detected for several hours. The company has been criticized for what's been called a delayed safety response.

Plains says the incident was an accident and not a criminal act.    The company spent months on site working with numerous agencies on the cleanup efforts and restoring beach front camping areas that were damaged. They are open and in use today.


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