Water Cop Slaps SF Muni for Leaky Fuel Tanks

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency repeatedly broke state underground storage-tank laws and has agreed to a $1.35 million settlement, California’s water regulator said Monday.
     The three-year investigation cited the SFMTA – known in the area as Muni – for violations including failing to monitor underground-tank systems where hazardous substances are stored, a lack of adequate spill-containment response and for failing to perform monthly operator inspections.
     This is the second fine issued by the State Water Resources Control Board to Muni in the last decade for failing to comply with state underground storage-tank laws.
     The water board said it hopes the settlement will “motivate the SMFTA” to comply with underground-storage regulations.
     “It is unfortunate that one of the government agencies that stimulated the need for the government-owned tanks initiative is continuing to act as a prime example of why the initiative was created,” said David Boyers, assistant chief counsel of the water board’s office of enforcement, in a statement. “We hope that this settlement marks a turning point for the SFMTA to prioritize environmental compliance.”
     The water board began its investigation into Muni in 2012 after on-site inspections revealed violations at four different facilities. The complaint filed July 8 in San Francisco Superior Court cites the agency for 14 separate violations that “threatened and continues to threaten public health and safety and the environment.”
     In a statement to Courthouse News, SMFTA media relations manager Paul Rose called the settlement a “fair and reasonable resolution” and that a new underground storage-tank compliance program will be implemented within 30 days.
     The underground tanks maintained by the agency contain diesel, gasoline and motor oil.
     In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency slapped SMFTA with a $250,000 civil penalty for its lack of response surrounding an oil spill that leaked 39,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the San Francisco Bay. The spill originated at one of SMFTA’s facilities and the agency ignored sensors and reports for multiple days.
     The oil spill caused the water board to create a monitoring program for government-ran underground tanks named “The Government-Owned Tanks Initiative.” Since 2010, the water board has issued four enforcement actions under the program.
     Under the settlement, $825,000 will be suspended on the condition that Muni maintains compliance with storage laws over the next five years.
     SMFTA’s historic transit system has transported residents since 1906 with its network of cable cars, buses and light-rail vehicles. According to its website, Muni is the seventh-largest transit system in the nation and serves more than 200 million customers a year.

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