ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — Today, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley announced that the Board of Supervisors unanimously authorized the County of Orange to initiate litigation against Chevron Corporation to recover cleanup costs related to an October 2022 oil leak from an improperly-abandoned Chevron oil pipeline buried beneath the Talbert Channel in Huntington Beach.
“Chevron Corporation has the clear legal and ethical responsibility to reimburse the County for all costs incurred by the County to remove this pipeline, clean up the oil, and protect our water quality and sensitive habitat,” said Supervisor Foley. “We know based on our experience during the 2021 Amplify Oil Spill that the responsible party is liable for the costs associated with the containment, cleanup, and damages resulting from an oil spill. We must make sure that Chevron takes real responsibility for failing to properly purge this abandoned pipeline of oil, as well as its failure to properly inform the County of the abandoned pipeline’s location.”
On October 6, 2022, a county contractor encountered resistance while driving a sheet pile into the ground in Talbert Channel. Orange County Public Works and the contractor determined that the pile driver ruptured a segment of an improperly-abandoned crude oil pipeline. Following the rupture, crude oil was discovered bubbling up into the channel. Current county cost estimates for the clean-up total approximately $1.8 million.
The Talbert Channel is a tidally-influenced flood control channel upstream of Talbert Marsh. The improperly-abandoned oil pipeline segment was subsequently removed and no oil has been observed since the removal of the segment. OC Public Works continues to monitor the channel.
In November 2022, the Board of Supervisors retained Ring Bender LLP, the law firm that successfully assisted the County with the 2021 Amplify oil spill litigation, to assist County Counsel in the prosecution of this litigation.