Criminal Investigation of the Refugio Oil Spill (2016)
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Indictment of Plains All American Pipeline on Criminal Charges Resulting from the Refugio Oil Spill
Topics: Water Pollution, Natural Resources
Type of action: Criminal Investigation
State involved: California
Summary: On May 17, 2016, California Attorney General Kamala Harris partnered with Santa Clara County to bring criminal charges against a pipeline company and an individual employee in conjunction with an oil spill. The May 2015 spill led to roughly 140,000 gallons of heavy crude on beaches and into the Pacific Ocean. After a joint investigation, local authorities secured an indictment on 46 counts against Plains All American Pipeline and 3 counts against an individual employee. The felony charges came for spilling oil and hazardous substances into state water. The misdemeanor charges against the employee stemmed from failure to provide notice in a timely manner to the California Office of Emergency Services.