California Code, Civil Code - CIV § 3333.5

(a) Each pipeline corporation that qualifies as a public utility within Section 216 of the Public Utilities Code that transports any crude oil or fraction thereof in a public utility oil pipeline system that meets the requirements of subdivision (h) shall be absolutely liable without regard to fault for any damages incurred by any injured party that arise out of, or are caused by, the discharge or leaking of crude oil or fraction thereof from the public utility pipeline.

(b) A pipeline corporation is not liable to an injured party under this section for any of the following:

(1) Damages, other than costs of removal incurred by the state or a local government caused solely by an act of war, hostilities, civil war, or insurrection or by an unanticipated grave natural disaster or other act of God of an exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible character, other than an earthquake, which damages could not have been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight.

(2) Damages in the proportion caused by the negligence, intentional malfeasance, or criminal act of the landowner, or an agent, employee, or contractor of the landowner, upon whose property the pipeline system is located.

(3) Except as provided by paragraph (2), damages caused solely by the negligence or intentional malfeasance of the injured person.

(4) Except as provided by paragraph (2), damages caused solely by the criminal act of a third party other than the pipeline corporation or an agent or employee of the pipeline corporation.

(5) Natural seepage from sources other than the public utility oil pipeline.

(6) Damages that arise out of, or are caused by, a discharge that is authorized by a state or federal permit.

(c) Damages for which a pipeline corporation is liable under this section are the following:

(1) All costs of response, containment, cleanup, removal, and treatment, including, but not limited to, monitoring and administration costs.

(2) Injury to, or economic losses resulting from destruction of or injury to, real or personal property.

(3) Injury to, destruction of, or loss of, natural resources, including, but not limited to, the reasonable cost of rehabilitating wildlife, habitat, and other resources and the reasonable cost of assessing that injury, destruction, or loss, in any action brought by the state, a county, city, or district.

(4) Loss of taxes, royalties, rents, use, or profit shares caused by the injury, destruction, loss, or impairment of use of real property, personal property, or natural resources.

(5) Loss of use and enjoyment of natural resources and other public resources or facilities in any action brought by the state, county, city, or district.

(d) The court may award reasonable costs of the suit, attorneys' fees, and the cost of any necessary expert witnesses to any prevailing plaintiff.  The court may award reasonable costs of the suit, attorneys' fees, and the cost of any necessary expert witnesses to any prevailing defendant if the court finds that the plaintiff commenced or prosecuted the suit under this section in bad faith or solely for purposes of harassing the defendant.

(e)(1) A pipeline corporation shall immediately clean up all crude oil, or any fraction thereof, that leaks or is discharged from a pipeline subject to this section.  Additionally, the pipeline corporation shall abate immediately, or as soon as practical, the effects of the leak or discharge and take all other necessary remedial action.

(2) A pipeline corporation may recover the costs of the activities specified in this section for which it is not at fault by means of any otherwise available cause of action, including, but not limited to, indemnification or subrogation.

(f) This section shall not apply to claims, or causes of action, for damages for personal injury or wrongful death.

(g) This section shall not prohibit any party from bringing any action for damages under any other provision or principle of law, including but not limited to, common law.  However, damages shall not be awarded pursuant to this section to an injured party to the extent the same party is or has been awarded damages for the same injury under any other provision or principle of law.

(h) This section shall only apply to all of the following:

(1) The pipeline system proposed to be constructed by Pacific Pipeline System, Inc., identified in Public Utilities Commission Application No. 91-10 -013, for which the maximum requirement of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (j) shall apply.

(2) Any other public utility pipeline system for which construction is completed on or after January 1, 1996, other than a pipeline system the entire length of which is subject to the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, (Division 7.8 (commencing with Section 8750) of the Public Resources Code ).  If part, but not all, of a pipeline system is subject to the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, any evidence of financial responsibility that satisfies that act, and that meets the conditions of this section, shall be credited toward the requirements of this section.

(3) Any major relocation of three miles or greater of a portion of a pipeline system along substantially new alignments accomplished through the exercise of eminent domain.  This section shall not apply to the portions of the pipeline not relocated.

(i) This section shall not apply to the following:

(1) A pipeline system in existence prior to January 1, 1996, that is converted to a public utility prior or subsequent to January 1, 1996.

(2) A public utility pipeline system not otherwise subject to this section, that is the object of repair, replacement or maintenance, unless that activity constitutes relocation as described in paragraph (3) of subdivision (h).

(j)(1) No pipeline system subject to this section shall be permitted to operate unless the State Fire Marshal certifies that the pipeline corporation demonstrates sufficient financial responsibility to respond to the liability imposed by this section.  The minimum financial responsibility required by the State Fire Marshal shall be seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) times the maximum capacity of the pipeline in the number of barrels per day up to a maximum of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) per pipeline system, or a maximum of two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000) per multiple pipeline systems.

(2) For the purposes of this section, financial responsibility shall be demonstrated by evidence that is substantially equivalent to that required by regulations issued under Section 8670.37.54 of the Government Code , including insurance, surety bond, letter of credit, guaranty, qualification as a self-insurer, or combination thereof or any other evidence of financial responsibility.  The State Fire Marshal shall require the documentation evidencing financial responsibility to be placed on file with that office, and shall administer the documentation in a manner substantially equivalent to that provided by regulations issued under Section 8670.37.54 of the Government Code .  Financial responsibility shall be available for payment of claims for damages described in subdivision (c) of any party, including, but not limited to, the State of California, local governments, special districts, and private parties, that obtains a final judgment therefor against the pipeline corporation.

(k) The State Fire Marshal shall require evidence of financial responsibility to fund postclosure cleanup costs.  The evidence of financial responsibility shall be 15 percent of the amount of financial responsibility required under subdivision (j) and shall be maintained by the pipeline corporation for four years from the date the pipeline is fully idled pursuant to a closure plan approved by the State Fire Marshal.

(l) “Fraction” of crude oil means a group of compounds collected by fractional distillation that condenses within the same temperature band, or a material that consists primarily of that group of compounds or of a mixture of those groups of compounds.

(m)(1) Notwithstanding Section 228 of the Public Utilities Code , for purposes of this section, “pipeline corporation” means every corporation or person directly operating, managing or owning any pipeline system that qualifies as a public utility within Section 216 of the Public Utilities Code and for compensation within this state.

(2) For purposes of this section, “owning” refers to the legal entity owning the pipeline system itself and does not include legal entities having an ownership interest, in whole or in part, in the entity owning the pipeline system or multiple pipeline systems.

(3) “Pipeline system” means a collective assemblage of intrastate line pipe, valves, and other appurtenances connected to line pipe, pumping units, fabricated assemblies associated with pumping units, metering and delivery station, and fabricated assemblies constructed for the same purpose at substantially the same time that form a facility through which crude oil or a fraction thereof moves in transportation.


FindLaw Codes are provided courtesy of Thomson Reuters Westlaw, the industry-leading online legal research system. For more detailed codes research information, including annotations and citations, please visit Westlaw.

FindLaw Codes may not reflect the most recent version of the law in your jurisdiction. Please verify the status of the code you are researching with the state legislature or via Westlaw before relying on it for your legal needs.

Copied to clipboard