U.S. grand jury charges Houston oil company, 2 subsidiaries in pipeline leak off SoCal coast

Huntington Beach, CA - October 11: Oil platforms Elly and Ellen are visible in the distance along with a container ship offshore as oil spill cleanup workers clean up remnants of the oil spill at Huntington State Beach in Huntington Beach on Monday,

A Los Angeles federal grand jury on Wednesday charged a Houston-based oil company and two subsidiaries for an oil spill off the California coast in October.

Federal prosecutors said Amplify Energy Corp. and its two subsidiaries that operate oil rigs and a pipeline off Long Beach were charged with a misdemeanor for illegally discharging oil.

The pipeline rupture was believed to have been caused when a cargo ship snagged it with an anchor earlier in the year, weakening it months before the spill that dumped about 25,000 gallons of crude oil in the ocean.

The indictment said the companies were negligent by failing to respond to a series of alarms that should have alerted it to the spill more than 13 hours before the pipeline was ultimately shut down.

If convicted, the charge carries up to five years of probation for the corporation and fines that potentially could total millions of dollars.