A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed by a California man against the energy companies that run a pipeline that spilled 144,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean.
The spill was caused by a 13-inch gash in a 17-mile long underwater pipeline. The 16-inch steel pipe is encased in concrete and lays about 98 feet underwater on the ocean floor. While officials have not determined the exact cause of the spill, they believe a ship's anchor may have snagged the pipeline, dragging a 4,000-foot section of the pipe about 105 feet.
The spill closed down beaches up and down the California coast from Huntington Beach to Dana Point Harbor, which is about 30 miles south. The oil could cause more closures as it continues to move south along the coast.
The lawsuit, filed by Peter Moses Gutierrez in the Central District of California Western Division, accuses the companies of failing to provide "adequate and timely notice of the hazards and their impacts."
"At the time of this complaint's filing, deceased animals were washing up covered in oil on the shorelines of the Affected Area, and a large ecological reserve nearby had suffered tremendous damage," the lawsuit stated.
According to Fox News, investigators for the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said workers received a low-pressure alarm that indicated a possible leak but did not shut down the pipeline until three hours later.
"The corporations that run oil rigs and pipelines assume the risk of oil spills when they undertake the responsibility required to run those entities," the suit stated. "When that responsibility is breached by the defendants, as here, the consequences can be catastrophic."