California: Broken oil pipeline approved for repair


A Texas oil company was granted permission to repair an underwater pipeline that burst off the coast of Southern California a year ago, spilling tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil, and forcing beaches and fisheries to close the door.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted permission Friday to Amplify Energy Corporation, clearing the way to rebuild the aging pipeline that broke months after it appeared to weaken when anchored by anchors. of ships during a storm.

On October 1, 2021, the rupture spilled approximately 25,000 gallons (94,600 liters) of oil into the Pacific Ocean, closing miles of beaches for a week, shutting down fisheries for months, and birds and flooded wetlands. in oil.

The approval to rebuild the pipeline running from an oil rig off Huntington Beach to storage tanks in Long Beach comes less than a month after Amplify pleaded guilty to federal charges of negligent discharge of oil. The Houston-based company and its two subsidiaries also agreed not to bring the dispute before state courts about polluting water and killing birds.

Amplify says the approval will allow them to remove and replace damaged sections of pipes from the ocean floor.

Work is estimated to take up to a month after a barge is commissioned. If it passes a series of safety tests once it is remedied, the company said it expects to begin operations in the first quarter of 2023.

Environmentalists who want the pipeline closed have criticized the approval of permits and renewed calls for an end to offshore oil exploration.

“The Biden administration has just increased the risk of another ugly oil spill on California’s beautiful coast,” said Brady Bradshaw of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, those who live near offshore drilling infrastructure are all too familiar with this cycle of drilling, overflowing, repeating abuse.”

On Wednesday, the environmental group sued the federal government for allowing the foundation where the pipeline originates to operate under outdated plans that suggest the foundation should have been shut down more than a decade ago. The lawsuit also said the Ocean Energy Administration failed to review and request an amendment to the plan, despite the spill.

Amplify reckons the spill would not have happened had the two ships not towed the anchor through the pipeline and damaged it during a January 2021 storm. It said it had not been notified of the anchorage for after the oil spill.

While the scale of the spill isn’t as bad as initially feared, US prosecutors say the company could have shut down the damaged line much sooner if it had realized the severity of a leak. series of leak detection alarms over a 13 hour period. .

The first alarm sounded late in the afternoon of October 1, 2021, but the workers misinterpreted the cause, according to the federal plea agreement.

As the alarm went off throughout the night, workers shut down the pipeline to investigate and then restarted it after deciding it was a false alarm. That spits out more oil.

It was not until dawn that a boat identified the spill and the line was closed.

As part of a federal court settlement to pay a $7 million fine and nearly $6 million in costs incurred by agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the company and its The subsidiary has agreed to install a new leak detection system and train staff to identify and respond to potential leaks.

The company agreed to plead guilty to six state charges and pay $4.9 million in fines and penalties as part of the settlement.


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