The Latest: Pipeline operator could face penalty for spill

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Posted: May 19, 2016 4:31 PM
The Latest: Pipeline operator could face penalty for spill

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the federal investigation into an oil spill on the California coast a year ago (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Federal officials say they are focusing on enforcement actions an oil pipeline operator could face for a spill on the California coast a year ago.

The head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Thursday that Plains All American Pipeline could be fined or prosecuted in federal court for failing to prevent the spill and respond to it quickly enough.

The 120,000 gallon spill closed scenic Santa Barbara County beaches for weeks and is blamed for killing scores of birds and marine mammals.

Agency administrator Marie Therese Dominguez says Plains will be held accountable, but she would not discuss possible penalties for the Texas company.

Dominguez says Plains failed on multiple levels to prevent, detect and respond to the incident, and inadequate planning made the spill worse.

Plains is facing dozens of criminal charges in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. It says the incident was an accident, not a crime.

12:01 p.m.

Federal regulators say a company responsible for a massive oil spill on the California coast a year ago didn't do enough to prevent pipeline corrosion and its operators didn't detect the spill quickly enough.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said in its final investigation report Thursday that Plains All American Pipeline also didn't have adequate systems to detect the leak that spilled more than 120,000 gallons.

The report was issued on the one-year anniversary of a pipeline rupture that closed scenic Santa Barbara County beaches and is blamed for killing wildlife.

The agency previously said severe corrosion was the cause of the spill, but the new report goes into greater depth about failures to detect and prevent that corrosion and also operator error in detecting the leak.

Plains is facing dozens of criminal charges in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for the spill.

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10:01 a.m.

Federal regulators say they have concluded an investigation into a pipeline break that spilled more than 140,000 gallons of crude oil on the California coast a year ago.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration plans to issue a final report Thursday afternoon detailing the cause of the spill that closed popular beaches and is blamed for killing hundreds of birds and marine mammals.

The agency has said severe corrosion on the pipe owned by Plains All American Pipeline caused the spill, but the final report is expected to go into greater depth.

The report comes on the anniversary of the spill that went undetected until oil began spilling onto a pristine beach.

Texas-based Plains was indicted this week on dozens of criminal charges in Santa Barbara Superior Court.