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Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off

Pipeline had no shut-offThe pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three decades ago, a county official said.

The original owner of the pipeline skirted the Santa Barbara County requirement by successfully arguing in court in the late 1980s that it should be subject to federal oversight because the pipeline is part of an interstate network, said Kevin Drude, deputy director of the county's Energy and Minerals Division. Auto shut-off valves are not required by federal regulators.

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California Oil Spill Prosecutors Eye Criminal Charges For Company

California oil spillGovernment prosecutors are investigating the company at the center of the California oil spill for possible criminal sanctions, according to the district attorney of Santa Barbara - a city that helped spawn the modern environmental movement.

Perhaps one of the worst places on Earth for a crude oil leak, Santa Barbara is a beautiful sun-kissed coastal city rich with wildlife, environmental lawyers and wealthy liberal activists.

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U.S. oil platform catches fire in Gulf of Mexico

oil rig fireA small offshore oil platform caught fire in shallow water near the coast of Louisiana on Friday and an oil sheen was seen in the sea after workers were evacuated, officials said.

The fire was still burning at midday Friday with response vessels on site. It was unclear how much oil had leaked, but the Coast Guard said it had seen a 1.4 nautical mile "rainbow sheen" drifting southwest of the platform.

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All Las Vegas freeway ramps reopen after 5.3-magnitude earthquake

Las Vegas earthquakeAll Las Vegas freeway ramps have reopened after a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit about 125 miles north near Caliente, where the temblor rattled windows and dishes.

The quake, which struck at 11:47 a.m. today, was centered about 24 miles south-southwest of Caliente in Lincoln County but was felt across the Las Vegas Valley.

The freeway transition ramp from southbound U.S. 95 to southbound Interstate 15 near downtown Las Vegas was closed after the quake, as was the ramp from U.S. 95 southbound to I-15 northbound and the Martin Luther King on-ramp to southbound I-15, according to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. Officials announced at about 5 p.m. that all the ramps were open.

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Past 12 Months Tied for Warmest on Record

Hottest year on recordApril capped a 12-month period that tied the warmest such stretch on record, according to data released Tuesday.

That period, going back to May 2014, tied the previous record holder, the 12 months from April 2014 to March 2015. Of the 10 warmest 12-month periods on record, nine occurred in the past two years, most of them in back-to-back stretches.

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Statoil: North Sea pipeline breach 'significant'

North sea pipeline spillA February leak from the Gudrun platform in the North Sea had the potential to be a significant and fatal incident, an investigation from Statoil found.

Gudrun was Statoil's first new operation on the Norwegian continental shelf in nearly a decade when it came online in early 2014. The facility was shut down briefly in February after a leak was detected. In its investigation, Statoil said the leak of about 140 cubic feet of material was the result of a crack extending nearly the entire circumference of a two-inch pipeline.

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NOAA: BP oil spill still killing dolphins five years on

dead dolphinOil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster is still causing dolphin deaths five years after the spill, with sea mammals in the Gulf of Mexico showing clear signs of petroleum exposure, according to study results published Wednesday by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Researchers conducting the study said they found that bottlenose dolphins were succumbing to the effects of lesions on their lungs and adrenal glands. The severity of the normally rare lesions shocked scientists studying dolphin corpses from the Gulf in the years since the 2010 disaster.

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Environment 2010 MCT Settlements reached in Deepwater Horizon disaster

Gulf spill case settledA committee of lawyers representing businesses and individuals claiming damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill announced a $211 million settlement Wednesday with Transocean Ltd., owner of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

In a separate development, oil giant BP — which leased the rig from Transocean — reached settlements resolving years of complicated spill-related litigation with Transocean, and with contractor Halliburton, which did cement work on the rig before it exploded in April 2010.

Court rulings have put the brunt of responsibility for the disaster on BP. But Transocean and Halliburton also were found to have some responsibility.

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Calif. oil spill spreads across 9 miles of Pacific, fouls beaches

California oil spillAn oil spill that fouled beaches and threatened wildlife along a scenic stretch of the California coast spread across 9 miles of ocean Wednesday as cleanup efforts began and federal regulators investigated how the pipeline leaked.

Workers in protective suits raked and shoveled stinky black goo off the beaches, while boats towed booms into place to corral the two slicks off the Santa Barbara coast where a much larger spill in 1969 — the largest in U.S. waters at the time — is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.

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