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Pipeline company to pay L.A. $1.75 million for oil spill

May 23, 2012 |  8:03 am

Port of Los Angeles

A pipeline company will pay $1.75 million to end a criminal case filed over a 2010 oil spill at the Port of Los Angeles, according to lawyers for City Atty. Carmen Trutanich.

Crimson Pipeline Management and its affiliated companies will make the payment to resolve allegations they allowed petroleum to wash into the Dominguez Channel and, eventually, the harbor.

The company also had been accused of failing to inform state regulators of the spill, which originated in Wilmington. Trutanich’s office claims Crimson spilled 1,300 barrels of petroleum over three months.

Crimson said it released fewer than 40 barrels but agreed to the settlement anyway. Deputy City Atty. Nick Karno, who handled the case, said the settlement is the largest ever secured by his office from an oil spill.

It will provide $1.3 million to the city’s general fund budget, $245,000 for the city’s watershed protection office, $179,000 to the Department of Fish and Game and $26,000 to the state’s Air Resources Board.

The payment also will result in the dismissal of a 61-count criminal case filed by Trutanich. A lawyer for Crimson said the settlement “vindicates Crimson’s belief that criminal charges should never have been filed” by the city last year.

The company also said the spill was the result of damage done to a pipeline during construction of a drainage system for the nearby Alameda Corridor, a rail trench that serves port cargo.

“The damage occurred years before Crimson Pipeline purchased the pipeline and was entirely unknown to Crimson until the time of the discharge,” said Crimson attorney Manny Medrano.

City officials said the settlement also will require Crimson to adhere to an environmental compliance plan, which includes regular audits of the company’s pipelines and the hiring of a third-party consultant to test their condition.

Crimson and its affiliates own and operate 700 miles of pipeline in Southern California, according to the lawsuit. 


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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Cranes await traffic at the Evergreen Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles in 2010. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times