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Huntington Beach Oil Spill Lawsuit

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October 29, 2021 by babinlaw Posted in

Following a massive oil seepage incident, the beach was closed to the public after the Huntington Beach Oil Spill. Officials worked tirelessly to get the beach cleaned up after the hazardous incident, and the companies that acted neglectfully and failed to contain the seepage are now facing legal action. A lawsuit has been filed against the liable parties, and hopefully they’ll have to pay for all the devastation their recklessness brought to the environment, wildlife, and people.

The beach hosts a huge volume of visitors, especially in the summers, and all of this traffic was disrupted due to the incident. But nothing compares with the widespread ecological destruction and the toxicity spread due to this oil seepage.

Worst of all, the companies involved could’ve prevented the leakage by assessing their pipeline regularly and keeping up with safe practices.

Violating people’s public safety is abhorrent and can lead to many problems for the victims, such as, in this case, the inhalation of toxic fumes. The victims who have suffered because of this oil spill deserve to be monetarily compensated for their economic and non-economic losses. The personal injury attorneys at the Babin Law Firm are committed to helping individuals in trying situations and helping them get the compensation they rightfully deserve!

The Incident

Following the breakdown of the pipeline carrying gallons of crude oil from an offshore rig on October 2, 2021, a massive volume of oil seeped into the ocean water. Some 126,000-gallon in one go! The pipeline was connected straight with the offshore drilling rig and operated by several subsidiaries of the Houston-based Amplify Energy Corporation, the Beta Operating Company, and others, all of which failed to act in time to prevent the destruction.

The spill originated some 4.5 miles from the Huntington Beach coast, contaminating miles and miles of the ocean water. This devastation had imminent and swift repercussions in the form of washed-up dead bodies of fish and other marine beings on the shore. The upper estimates of the oil spillage volume go as much as 144,000 gallons, which is a huge deal.

For context, an average swimming pool is no more than 20,000 gallons – now imagine almost 7 to 8 pool-fulls of crude oil dumped into marine waters where a bustling ecosystem resides, highly sensitive to even the slightest contamination. Plus, the fumes produced by this contamination are potentially harmful to humans as well.

However, the volume of the contamination is dwarfed by the speed of this incident – the rapidness of this change was evidently too much for the marine life and necessitated swift action from the authorities. Following the appearance of obvious symptoms of oil seepage, the authorities sprang into action, shut the beach down for the public, and busied themselves trying to desperately counteract the effects of the contamination with cleanup efforts.

Hopefully, some anti-oil spill contamination reforms will be introduced to oil recovery operations following this proposed class-action suit. Federal investigators will soon present their findings, and the rest will then depend on the justice department.

The Extent Of The Damage

There is reason to believe that the said pipe may have been leaking even before it broke altogether on October 2 when hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic oil contaminants seeped into the beach water. One possibility is that the underwater pipeline may have been damaged by a ship anchor, however, further investigation is needed in this regard.

It is clear that the damage could’ve been prevented, on-time action could’ve been taken by Amplify Energy Corp. and other liable companies after the initial leaks, or at least, the companies involved could’ve warned the public of the imminent threat at hand.

They failed, however, at all fronts in this regard.

In fact, the coast guard warned the companies about the threat initially, but they still failed to do much about it.

One of the plaintiffs in this proposed class-action lawsuit, the Beta Operating Company has a stained record of safety violations going as back as 1980, with 125 citations for endangering the environment and safety of the workers/general public. The company has also been subjected to exorbitant fines, around $85,000, in response to incidents in the past.

In this case, the extent of the damage was as follows for Huntington Beach:

  • Up to 144,000 gallons of crude oil seeped into the marine waters.
  • Several dead marine animals were found washed up on shore, covered in crude oil.
  • A nearby reserve for ecological preservation suffered severe damage due to the contamination.
  • The stretch of coast between the Huntington Beach and Newport Beach was declared as the affected area.
  • The oil seepage spread up to the shore.
  • Overall, the oil spill covered 5.8 nautical miles.
  • The oil also found its way into the Santa Ana River Trail and the Talbert Marshlands.
  • Nearby wetlands were also affected by the massive leak.
  • All the nearby beaches also had to be closed due to the contamination.
  • The crude oil contamination that resulted due to the negligence of the energy companies in question also produced toxic fumes which can cause harm to people.

An estimate of the extent of the consequential damages can be deduced by the fact that 300 people were initially busy with the cleaning operations with an expectation that the number could swell to as much as 1,500. Volunteers were also allowed to assist in the matter, given that they took a short course to understand what they had to do.

The Lawsuit

The basis of the federal lawsuit lies in the fact that not only did the companies act neglectfully regarding the oil slick, failing to control the damage, but even failing to notify the public about the hazards of the incident. Peter Moses Gutierrez Jr., a regular performer on Huntington Beach and the main plaintiff of the class action lawsuit, claims that beach closure caused substantial losses to his business.

He also claims that the toxic fumes caused him bodily harm; this may require some medical monitoring. Similar claims have also surfaced from other plaintiffs against the business owners, who seek justice and compensation for monetary damages and non-financial losses caused by this incident.

This incident is bound to have some impacts on businesses (and to the oil industry in the USA, in general) involved, just as it caused tremendous damage to the environment. For instance, ideally, there should be a vigilant administrator for pipeline safety for all such businesses to prevent a major leak that can affect thousands of people.

Bottom Line

Seeking financial compensation for the damages done to you by compromised public safety standards is an inalienable right of any victim. Oil companies, for instance, owe it to the public to maintain certain safety standards since their actions can have a direct impact on your safety and well-being. They are thus required to act carefully and not be negligent about their obligations.

If, however, they fail to do and that results in some form of harm to you, then you may be able to hold them liable for those damages.

At Babin Law, our team of experienced lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which means that if we’re able to take on your case, we will offer our services even if you can’t pay upfront. Just give us a call and schedule your free consultation session to see if we will be able to help.