• Amplify Energy Corp. didn’t shut down the pipeline for more than three hours after being alerted.
  • The Coast Guard was alerted Friday night by a “good Samaritan” but did little until the next day.
  • It isn’t clear how the delays affected wildlife.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – A disc jockey filed the first federal lawsuit against the operator of a pipeline that leaked up to 144,000 gallons of oil into waters off Southern California.

The proposed class-action suit, filed Monday, comes as Amplify Energy – and the Coast Guard – face intense scrutiny for delayed responses that might have aggravated the disaster.

In the lawsuit, Peter Moses Gutierrez claims his company performs events frequently on the beachfront and will lose a “substantial amount of his DJ business” as a result of the spill and resulting closure of the beach. Gutierrez claims he was or will be exposed as a result.

Gutierrez seeks unspecified damages. Lawyer Greg Coleman said his firm’s lawyers are working with Huntington Beach and surrounding communities to protect their legal rights. 

Coleman explained that he hopes to “help them clean up the beaches” and to force the fossil fuels industry to do better.

Beta Offshore is a subsidiary Amplify Energy. The company didn’t shut down the pipeline, almost 100 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, for more than three hours after being alerted, according to federal regulators.

The U.S. Transportation Department sent a letter to Amplify stating that they received “a low pressure alarm” from Amplify workers at 2:20 a.m. on Saturday. It indicated possible pipeline failure. At 6 a.m. – more than three hours later – the pipeline was shut down, the letter states.

The letter from the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration notes it took more than six hours for the company to report the spill to the 24-hour federal National Response Center, the designated federal point of contact for reporting all discharges into the environment. 

The pipeline was not shut off for longer than three hoursFederals declare after alert for pressure failure

Amplify’s spill-response plan calls for immediate notification in the event of a spill. CEO Martyn Willsher insisted the company wasn’t aware of the spill until a sheen on the water was detected at 8:09 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard is also under scrutiny. A Coast Guard official acknowledged the agency was alerted to a sheen on the water Friday night by a “good Samaritan” but did little until the next day.

Rear Adm. Brian Penoyer said Tuesday that the agency did not have enough corroborating evidence when the call came in and was hindered by darkness and a lack of technology. Penoyer said reports of oil sheens are fairly common at major seaports.

“In hindsight, it seems obvious, but they didn’t know that at that time,” Penoyer said.

The Unified Command to the spill response, led by the Coast Guard, said in a statement that hours after the good Samaritan report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said satellite imagery revealed “a possible oil anomaly.” Crews from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s spill response team responded to the report before sunrise Saturday, but conditions were foggy and the crew returned to shore, the statement said.

According to the Unified Command statement, “The Coast Guard deployed and Orange County Sheriff was sent at first light when fog lifted to investigate.” 

It is unclear what the delay has had on wildlife. The Oiled Wildlife Care Network reported that through Tuesday, two birds have been found dead and 13 have been recovered alive. Crews cleaned up the oily waters in delicate areas by using small boats to navigate through the wetlands and extract large quantities of oil from shallow water.

On Friday, a massive oil spillage in California was announced.Nobody told the many people who visited beaches.

Coast Guard Capt. Rebecca Ore, Coast Guard Capt. The agency said the divers found a bend in the 17-mile-long, 41-year-old pipeline, possibly dragged by an anchor. 

Willsher explained that “the pipeline was essentially being pulled like an elastic bowstring.” Its largest point measures approximately 105 feet from the original location.

Preliminary reports suggest the failure may have been “caused by an anchor that hooked the pipeline, causing a partial tear,” federal transportation investigators said.

Dozens of ships have routinely anchored offshore, awaiting access to ports plagued by COVID-19 and other issues that have slowed the global supply chain.

A 90-day deadline has been given to the company for submitting a “root cause Failure Analysis” to Federal Officials. This analysis will also be supported by independent third parties that document the decision-making process as well as the contributing factors.

The DOT letter states that the final report should include conclusions and lessons learned.

Bacon reported in Arlington, Virginia. Contributing to The Associated Press

California Coast: How pipeline was breachedKilling wildlife and closing beaches

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