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Ventura, Calif. July 21, 2020 – State and local officials announced a comprehensive civil settlement with Crimson Pipeline, L.P., and its contractor CD Lyon Construction, Inc. and CD Lyon, Inc. (collectively CD Lyon), the companies responsible for a June 2016 crude oil spill in Hall Canyon, Ventura. The spill occurred from a crude oil pipeline owned by the company following a valve replacement operation and restart of the line. The spill originated from new valve flanges which had not been properly tightened by Crimson contractor CD Lyon. The release of more than 44,000 gallons of crude required a comprehensive cleanup and investigation effort, and caused injury to natural resources.
In all, Crimson has agreed to pay civil penalties, court costs and other outstanding costs as well as natural resources damages totaling $1,307,700. In addition, CD Lyon has agreed to pay civil penalties and a portion of the outstanding costs totaling $300,000.
The settlement includes $900,000 for civil penalties to be paid by Crimson, of which $600,000 will be paid to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, based on Crimson’s negligent conduct in violation of the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (Lempert-Keene Act), unlawful discharge in violation of the Fish and Game Code, and failure to comply with pipeline safety laws in violation of the Business and Professions Code. The company received a credit for the $300,000 civil penalty payment made to the State Fire Marshal for the same incident. The settlement with Crimson also included $387,700 in investigative and attorney’s costs, $20,000 to compensate for injuries to natural resources, and injunctive relief requiring the company to comply with the Lempert-Keene Act and pipeline safety laws, and implement improved oil spill prevention and response measures.
CD Lyon shall pay $185,000 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, of which approximately $175,000 is for civil penalties based on CD Lyon’s negligent conduct in violation of the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act (Lempert-Keene Act) and the unlawful discharge in violation of the Fish and Game Code, and approximately $10,000 is for remaining outstanding costs. CD Lyon will also pay $115,000 to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for additional investigative and attorney’s costs.
“With this settlement, Crimson and their contractor will pay a significant penalty, improve its oil spill preparedness and response operations, and compensate the public for natural resource damages,” said Thomas Cullen, administrator of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. “The public should know that when an oil spill happens in California, we will hold those responsible accountable and require a thorough and rapid cleanup and restoration.”
The spill, which came to be known as the Grove Incident, happened early in the morning of June 23, 2016, when the pipeline restarted following a faulty valve replacement and released fuel into the residential neighborhood canyon. Local residents discovered the release and quickly alerted Crimson and local responders. A fast response by Crimson personnel and local responders, particularly the Ventura County Fire Department, kept the crude oil from reaching the ocean and prevented much more extensive injuries to natural resources. Nevertheless, Hall Canyon still required months of cleanup and some residents evacuated their homes due to the strong odor of petroleum.