Posted on February 15, 2023
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has agreed to jointly fund the $45 million settlement for claimants related to the 2021 Orange County pipeline oil spill.
The company confirmed that additional terms of a formal settlement are still being negotiated, and once reached, they will have to be approved by the Court.
The 2021 Orange County oil spill occurred on 2 October 2021, off the coast of Huntington Beach in Southern California. A pipeline operated by Amplify Energy Corporation leaked an estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean, causing significant environmental damage and affecting local marine wildlife.
On 16 October 2021, the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board marine casualty investigators boarded boxship MSC DANIT at the Port of Long Beach. Parties of interest, including MSC, the ship owner Dordellas Finance Corporation, and others were designated in the investigation.
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According to the experts who were involved in the analysis and reconstruction of key events that led up to the oil spill, the MSC DANIT manoeuvred in a reasonable and prudent manner despite adverse weather and intense marine traffic in January 2021 when the pipeline was first damaged.
MSC claimed that its ship took appropriate actions while at anchor and maintained constant communication with the US Coast Guard and port authorities off the coast of California.
The carrier’s investigation revealed that the pipeline did not comply with its original permit to be built sufficiently away from the federal anchorage zone in which the MSC DANIT and other ships were anchored.
Moreover, the negligent conduct of Amplify Energy, including its repeated failure to take reasonable preventative steps to better protect its pipeline and detect latent damage, was the true cause of the oil spill according to MSC.
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Despite denying any wrongdoing in the matter, the company has agreed to jointly fund the settlement with claimants.
This adds to the $50 million already promised by Amplify to compensate affected residents and business owners.
MSC finally added in its recent statement that it remains committed “to demonstrating in the continuing legal proceedings that the responsibility for the 2021 oil spill remains the responsibility of Amplify, the pipeline owner, who already has plead guilty to criminal negligence for the oil spill.”
Most recently, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) called on MSC to justify a congestion surcharge levied against a US business.
The FMC is disputing a congestion fee of $1000 that MSC charged SOFi Paper Products after the American firm lodged a complaint with the regulator.