It’s Wednesday, May 18, and a pipeline company is paying more money for damages caused by an oil spill in 2015.

Plains All American Pipeline reached a $230 million settlement with California fishers and coastal property owners last week, agreeing to compensate them for damages caused by a devastating oil spill at Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County in 2015.

The oil spill — the state’s worst since the Union Oil blowout of 1969 — contaminated the Southern California coastline with more than 123,000 gallons of crude oil, some of it reaching beaches as far as 100 miles away. Oil from the spill killed countless birds, mammals, and fish, causing millions of dollars of damage to their habitats and to the industries that they sustain.

According to the Justice Department, the spill was caused by a corroding pipe and Plains All American Pipeline’s “failure to respond properly” once the spill began. To discharge allegations that it had violated federal safety laws, the company settled with the Justice Department for $60 million in 2020, agreeing to pay for cleanup costs, damages to local ecosystems, and penalties. The new settlement goes further, pledging $184 million to fishers to make up for the amount of revenue they lost as a result of the spill. The remaining $46 million will be allocated to more than 3,000 beachside property owners.

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Although Plains All American Pipeline has previously apologized for the 2015 oil spill, the company didn’t admit liability in the new settlement. The $230 million deal still has to undergo a public comment period and receive approval from a federal court.

Matthew Preusch, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs, cheered the news. “This settlement should serve as a reminder that pollution just can’t be a cost of doing business, and that corporations will be held accountable for environmental damage they cause,” he told the Associated Press.

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