OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - BP and Arco intentionally disabled leak detection devices and failed to inspect and maintain underground storage tanks at 780 gas stations across California, the attorney general says in court.
Attorney General Kamala Harris and eight county district attorneys sued BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America and Atlantic Richfield Co., in Alameda County Court. Arco became a BP subsidiary in 2000.
The state accuses the oil companies of violating Health & Safety and Business & Professional Codes in storing, failing to maintain and handling of gasoline and hazardous wastes.
"Safe storage of gasoline is not only common sense, it is essential to protecting the integrity of California's groundwater resources," Harris said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
"California's hazardous waste laws safeguard public health and this lawsuit ensures proper maintenance of the tanks that store fuel beneath California's communities."
Since October 2006, BP and Arco "tampered with or disabled leak detection devices, and failed to test secondary containment systems, conduct monthly inspections, train employees in proper protocol, and maintain operational alarm systems, among other violations," the attorney general said.
Harris's office found that BP and Arco violated hazards laws at gas stations in 37 counties in California: there are 58 counties in the state.
The 62-page lawsuit details legal violations at 41 gas stations.
The state seeks civil penalties and an injunction.
Joining as plaintiffs are district attorneys from the counties of Alameda, Glenn, Merced, Nevada, Placer, San Bernardino, Stanislaus and Yuba.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.