SANTA BARBARA (KCBS/AP) — Plains All American Pipeline says a California grand jury has indicted the company and one of its employees in connection with a pipeline break that spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara County coast and into the ocean.
Plains says in a statement that the indictment contains 46 charges of state law violations.
The company says the spill was an accident and believes no criminal behavior occurred.
The May 19, 2015, rupture fouled Refugio State Beach, and a slick spread across miles of ocean.
Tar balls were found more than 100 miles away on Los Angeles County beaches.
“The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury indicted corporate defendant Plains All American Pipeline of Houston, Texas on 46 charges; four felony charges,” Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced.
The felonies include knowingly discharging a pollutant into state waters.
Attorney General Kamala Harris called the charges a first step.
“This case should serve as a stark reminder that any company that is operating in our state, and transporting crude oil, and doing it in a way that is irresponsible, and in violation of the law will be held accountable,” Harris said.
The spill closed coastal campgrounds and beaches and has been blamed for the deaths of more than 100 marine mammals, mostly sea lions, and nearly 200 birds.