A court has ordered HVI Cat Canyon Inc., an oil company, to pay $65 million to the U.S. and California for oil spills and natural resource damage.
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a final judgment against the company – formerly known as Greka Oil & Gas Inc. – on March 2. The civil was filed jointly by the U.S. and the State of California on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Coast Guard, on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The suit alleged that HVI Cat Canyon – which previously owned and operated multiple oil and gas production facilities in Santa Barbara County, California – was liable for more than two dozen oil spills in state and federal waters.
The suit also alleged that HVI Cat Canyon was liable for reimbursement of the federal and state government costs of clean-up and harming fish, plant, bird, or animal life and habitat.
The judgment followed an opinion from last month in which the court awarded the U.S. and California the total amount of civil penalties, response costs, and damages they sought at trial.
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The court found that at least 12 spills into the waters of the United States – which occurred from 2005 through 2010 – resulted from HVI Cat Canyon’s “gross negligence.”
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the spills evinced a pattern of reckless disregard for good oilfield industry practices, and a series of negligent acts or omissions by HVI concerning oil spill prevention, and pipeline and facility inspection and maintenance,” the court wrote.
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HVI Cat Canyon is ultimately liable to the U.S. government for $40 million in civil penalties for the spills, $15 million in civil penalties for violating federal regulations, and $2.5 million in cleanup costs. The company is also liable to California for nearly $8 million in civil penalties and nearly $200,000 in natural resource damage and cleanup costs.