DA: BP settles $14M suit over violating storage tank laws

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego County’s top prosecutor Thursday hailed a $14 million settlement with British Petroleum West Coast Products, BP Products North America and Arco over allegations that the companies violated state laws regarding the operation and maintenance of motor vehicle fuel underground storage tanks.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the California Attorney General’s Office and eight other district attorneys across the state alleged that BP failed to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks used to store gasoline for sale at about 780 BP-owned Arco gas stations in California over a period of 10 years and violated other hazardous material and hazardous waste laws.

A total of 74 of the gas stations connected to the settlement are located in San Diego County.

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

The complaint alleged that, since 2006, BP had improperly monitored, inspected and maintained underground storage tanks used to store gasoline for retail sale; tampered with or disabled leak detection devices; and improperly handled and disposed of hazardous wastes and materials associated with the underground storage tanks at retail gas stations throughout California.

In addition, the complaint alleged that BP failed to test secondary containment systems, conduct monthly inspections, train employees in proper protocol and maintain operational alarm systems.

Under the terms of the judgment, which will be entered without admission of liability, BP will be subject to an injunction requiring full compliance with California’s laws governing underground storage tanks and hazardous materials.

BP currently owns or operates 73 facilities in California and at the beginning of the investigation, owned or operated about 780 facilities.