A California citizen with business operations at Huntington Beach filed a class-action lawsuit (pdf) against energy companies on Oct. 4, following the Huntington Beach oil spill on Oct. 2.

Plaintiff Peter Moses Gutierrez Jr. owns a disk jockey company that regularly holds events at Huntington Beach.

Gutierrez said that he “is losing and will lose a substantial amount” of business because of the oil spill and subsequent closure of Huntington Beach. As a resident of Huntington Beach, Gutierrez also claimed that he was “exposed to toxins.”

The lawsuit was filed against Amplify Energy Corporation, its subsidiary Beta Operating Company, and other affiliated companies. According to the lawsuit, Beta Operating Company was responsible for overseeing daily operations of the Elly oil rig.

The lawsuit accused the defendants of “fail[ing] to ensure that the oil rig was safe to operate” and failing to warn the public “with adequate and timely notice of the hazards and their impacts.”

While 350 personnel are currently working across the county’s coast to manually clean up the oil, the county plans on getting 1,500 workers by the end of the week.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the leak on the morning of Oct. 2, but Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley said the pipeline was likely leaking before the damage was discovered Saturday morning, according to documents obtained by ABC.

Amplify Energy CEO and president Martyn Willsher said during an Oct. 6 press conference that when the company discovered the oil in the water at 8:09 a.m. Oct. 2, they were no longer pumping any oil through the pipelines. Willsher said that after discovering the oil, his team instantly radioed back to the platforms to initiate the incident response plan.

“We did not take any additional time [after discovering the leak]; we automatically instituted our incident recovery plan, and people were notified very, very quickly,” Willsher said.

He also said that he did not know whether metrics indicated a significant loss of pressure, but that the company would “fully investigate this.”

Regarding the lag between an alarm going off at 2:30 in the morning on Saturday and oil being discovered in the water at 8:09 a.m., Willsher said that Amplify would be fully working with investigators on the incident.

“We were not aware of any spill until 8:09 a.m. on Saturday morning,” he added. “I promise you, if we were aware of something on Friday night, I promise you we would have immediately stopped all operations.”

Amplify does maintenance on the pipe every year, according to Willsher, with one year focusing on the external pipe and the other year focusing on the internal part of the pipe. Additionally, the team does an annual “spill drill,” involving other agencies to make it a fully integrated incident response plan. Weekly cleanings are also done on the pipe, with the last one being done on Sept. 29, and there were no abnormalities spotted, he said.

Tammy Hung


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