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Enforcement Action Details


Case CPF 520155011H

This report lists key information pertaining to a particular enforcement case (1). For cases initiated after January 1, 2007, electronic files of PHMSA's initial notice letter, the operator's initial response letter (if any), and PHMSA's Final Order (if an Order is issued) are provided. PHMSA only issues Final Orders in certain situations. For example, Final Orders are not issued for Warning Letters and most Notices of Amendment.

Case Summary 
Case Number 520155011H
Case Type Corrective Action Order
Region Western
Date Opened 05/21/15
Date Closed 10/29/20

PHMSA conducted an investigation into Plains Pipeline, L.P, for a spill of heavy crude-oil in Santa Barbara County, California on May 19, 2015 where a portion of the oil reached the Pacific Ocean and coastal areas such as Refugio State Beach. As a result of the Refugio Incident, PHMSA issued a Corrective Action order on May 21, 2015. PHMSA's investigation issued a Failure Investigation Report on May 19, 2016 and included findings of the "proximate or direct" causes and the "contributing" causes of the Refugio Incident. PHMSA, EPA, DOI, NOAA and the State of California referred the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for judicial enforcement. In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Plains Pipeline, L.P alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the federal Pipeline Safety Laws seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief. In March 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California approved a consent decree among the parties in which Plains agreed to pay a combined $24 million civil penalty. The government allocated $14.5 million of the penalty for pipeline safety matters.

The Response Options for Pipeline Operators in Compliance Proceedings provides a more detailed description of an operator's options in responding to enforcement cases. This document accompanies all NOPV and NOA letters. The document linked here is the current version. The corresponding document at the time the case was opened may differ from the current version.

The set of documents provided here may be incomplete.

fileglyph520155011H_Amended Corrective Action Order_06032015.pdf 407 KB scanned version
fileglyph520155011H_Amended Corrective Action Order_06032015_text.pdf 38 KB accessible version
fileglyph520155011H_Amendment No. 2 Corrective Action Order_11122015.pdf 366 KB scanned version
fileglyph520155011H_Amendment No. 2 Corrective Action Order_11122015_text.pdf 48 KB accessible version
fileglyph520155011H_Amendment No. 3 to the Corrective Action Order_061620116.pdf (Note: Large File) 9,102 KB scanned version
fileglyph520155011H_Amendment No. 3 to the Corrective Action Order_061620116_text.pdf 181 KB accessible version
fileglyph520155011H_Closure Letter_10292020.pdf 259 KB scanned version
fileglyph520155011H_Closure Letter_10292020_text.pdf 95 KB accessible version
fileglyph520155011H_Corrective Action Order_05212015.pdf (Note: Large File) 7,316 KB scanned version
fileglyph520155011H_Corrective Action Order_05212015_text.pdf 45 KB accessible version
fileglyph520155011H_Plains_All_American_Pipeline_Complaint_ECF_03132020.PDF 1,263 KB
fileglyph520155011H_Plains_All_American_Pipeline_Consent_Decree_03132020.PDF (Note: Large File) 9,431 KB

NOTE: Most documents provided on these pages are in PDF format. To read them, you may need to download a free viewer.

Also see


  1. PHMSA Safety Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART)and the Work Management System as of September 6, 2023.

For comments and questions on the enforcement information presented on this site, please send us feedback.

Information provided on this website is intended to enhance public understanding of PHMSA's enforcement program. Aggregate and company-specific statistical information reflecting PHMSA's enforcement actions is provided beginning with 2002. Key documents associated with new administrative enforcement cases are provided beginning with 2007. Agency orders issued since 2002 are also provided. The search feature may not retrieve every document associated with each individual enforcement action. Enforcement data is updated monthly as additional cases are initiated and other cases are resolved. Historical totals will change over time to reflect changes in case status.

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