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Class action lawsuit filed over California oil spill

Dealing with oil spill is difficult. FILE PHOTO USAID

Los Angeles, USA |  Xinhua | A class action lawsuit was filed late Monday against a U.S. company over the massive oil spill off the coast of Southern California, demanding monetary damages for the “environmental catastrophe.”

In a 13-page document filed in a Los Angeles federal court, the Houston-based Amplify Energy and its Beta Offshore division, which own the offshore oil production facility from which the oil spilled, were listed as the defendants.

The document said the suit was brought on behalf of Peter Moses Gutierrez Jr. “individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.”

Gutierrez Jr., who owns a disc jockey company that regularly performs along Huntington Beach, said that he lost and will continue to lose a substantial amount of his business due to the closure of the beach and other consequences of the spill.

The plaintiffs demand monetary damages, injunctive relief, response costs and medical monitoring.

At least 126,000 gallons of oil were spilled into the Pacific Ocean, causing an “environmental catastrophe,” the document said.

“Deceased animals were washing up covered in oil on the shoreline of the affected area and a large ecological reserve nearby had suffered tremendous damage,” it added.

The Orange County healthcare agency released a statement to the citizens of the affected area about the deleterious effects of the oil spill to human health and safety.

The incident was the latest tragedy of the oil industry but it certainly won’t be the last, Attorney Greg Coleman, who also helped file the suit, was quoted by the local NBC news channel as saying.

“With this lawsuit we hope to help them clean up their beaches and force the fossil fuel industry to clean up its act,” he said.

Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said Monday that the city’s famous beaches could remain closed for weeks or even months, leaving residents and business owners facing an ecological and economic disaster.

The spill also prompted the cancellation of the final day of the 5th Pacific Airshow on Sunday, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to the shore on Saturday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom Monday proclaimed a state of emergency in Orange County to support the emergency response to the oil spill incident, directing state agencies “to undertake immediate and aggressive action to clean up and mitigate the effects” of the spill.

Justice Department officials and federal investigators are “investigating to determine if any criminal liability exists” in relation to the oil spill, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Local media reported that records showed that the U.S. Coast Guard received the first report of a possible oil spill off the Southern California coast more than 12 hours before the company reported a major leak in its pipeline.

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