June 25, 2015 — The Los Angeles Times reports that a homeowner in Santa Barbara has filed a proposed class action lawsuit claiming a recent oil spill decreased property values along the beach.

The lawsuit (PDF) was filed against Plains All-American Pipeline by Alexandra B. Geremia, a trustee for her family’s beachfront home in Santa Barbara. Before the spill, she enjoyed the pristine environment and the value of her home reflected direct access to the ocean.

She says all that changed on May 19, when a pipeline ruptured and spewed 101,000 gallons of crude oil before it was shut off three hours later. She claims the oil spill on May 19 could have been prevented if there had been an automatic shut-off valve on the pipeline.

According to the complaint:

“Since the spill, her property has been bombarded with a steady stream of oil tarballs and oil sheen from the spill, and she has been unable to even walk on the beach.”

Plains Pipeline, a Texas-based oil company, has been criticized for its slow response to the spill. An employee confirmed the spill at 1:30 p.m., but waited another 90 minutes to contact the response center. By that time, the Coast Guard was already responding.

According to the Associated Press, Plains told the government it should take no more than 15 minutes to detect a spill and shut off the flow of oil. They also said a break in the line was “extremely unlikely.” After the spill, investigators found that the pipeline had extensive corrosion.


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