Oil Companies to Pay $14 Million for Gas Storage Violations

By BIANCA BRUNO

SAN DIEGO (CN) – On Thursday, the San Diego County district attorney’s office announced a $14 million settlement with BP West Coast Products over gasoline storage tanks that were improperly maintained for the past 10 years.

BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America and the Atlantic Richfield Company allegedly violated state hazardous material and waste laws by not properly maintaining underground gasoline storage tanks.

San Diego’s DA joined the California Attorney General’s Office and a host of district attorneys from throughout the state in alleging that since 2006, the companies had failed to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks used to store gasoline sold at 780 gas stations across California.

Seventy-four of the gas stations connected to the settlement are located in San Diego, according to the DA’s office.

“This settlement holds BP accountable for putting our environment and our communities at risk in San Diego County,” DA Bonnie Dumanis said in a press release. “The DA’s Environmental Protection Unit continues its important work in safeguarding our neighborhoods against violations like these and contributing to a healthier county.”

The company has also been accused of tampering with or disabling leak detection devices and improperly handling and disposing of hazardous waste, in addition to failing to test secondary containment systems, conduct monthly inspections, train employees in proper protocol and maintain operational alarm systems, according to the DA’s office.

The terms of the judgment were entered without admission of liability. The settlement includes almost $9 million in civil penalties, $3.75 million to cover investigation and prosecution costs and $1.3 million to fund environmental protection projects. BP will also be subject to an injunction requiring full compliance with state laws.

The settlement must be approved by the Alameda County Superior Court before it becomes final.

Although BP owned 780 facilities in California at the beginning of the investigation, it now owns and operates only 73.