Amplify Energy Corp., whose ruptured pipeline released about 25,000 gallons of oil off the coast of Huntington Beach last October, will cover Orange County’s costs of dealing with the spill, county officials said.
Orange County had filed a claim with Amplify, and on Tuesday the Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed to accept a proposed $956,352 settlement with the company.
The spill closed beaches along the Orange County coast for about a week, restricted offshore fishing for about six weeks and killed about 82 birds and six mammals. Cleanup efforts involved hundreds of workers and didn’t fully wind down until about three months after the spill.
County spokeswoman Molly Nichelson said the settlement amount is “backfilling the costs we incurred from the oil spill itself” and includes spending by the county health agency, executive office and Sheriff’s Department to respond to the spill.
“It’s a good settlement for the taxpayers because we got the work done, we responded quickly, we got the oil cleaned up – and we got reimbursed for doing all the work in less than a year,” OC Supervisor Katrina Foley said.
Amplify operates the offshore platform and pipeline that leaked. In December a federal grand jury indicted the company and two subsidiaries, alleging workers failed to respond to leak detection alarms and continued operating the pipeline for several hours after the breach.
The company has said it believed at the time the warning system was faulty, and it has attributed the rupture to container ships dragging their anchors across the pipe. In February it filed lawsuits against two shipping companies and an organization that helps manage marine traffic.
Huntington Beach also incurred costs and saw financial losses from the spill, which caused the cancellation of the final day of the Pacific Air Show. City officials could not immediately be reached Tuesday, but Huntington Beach Councilwoman Kim Carr said in November the spill had cost the city about $500,000.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which helped oversee the shoreline cleanup, doesn’t have to worry about making taxpayers whole because “all the costs are billed back to the party that spilled the oil,” said Steve Gonzalez with the department’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. He did not immediately have the cost of the state’s spill response.
As recently as last month, federal authorities’ plan to use an expedited process allowing Amplify restart the pipeline caused an outcry among Southern California state and federal representatives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.