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Preliminary settlement would require $70 million to go to property owners affected by Refugio oil spill

Oil on the beach at Refugio State Park in Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, 2015.
U.S. Coast Guard
Oil on the beach at Refugio State Park in Santa Barbara, California, on May 19, 2015.

This story was edited on May 21, 2024 to provide accurate information about the preliminary settlement between Sabre Offshore Corp. and the property owners who filed the lawsuit.

A preliminary $70 million class action settlement over the 2015 Refugio oil spill would require the pipeline owners to pay more than 90 affected property owners.

Nearly 10 years ago a pipeline owned by Plains All American ruptured near Refugio State Beach, west of Goleta, and spilled over 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean.

In 1991, property owners agreed to let the pipelines be built on their land as long as the owners took care of maintenance and operations. But a federal investigation found that in May of 2015, Plains All American's mistakes caused the crude oil to spill near Refugio State Beach.

If the settlement is finalized, it would be paid by the pipeline's current owners, Sable Offshore Corp.

The settlement's final approval will be decided in a hearing scheduled for September.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast. When she's not writing or editing news stories, she loves to travel, play tennis and take her 140-lbs dog, Atlas, on long walks by the coast.
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