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Oil company sued over Santa Barbara spills

GREKA BESTFederal and state regulators on Friday sued an oil company they say was responsible for numerous spills into onshore waterways over five years in Santa Barbara County. The suit against Greka Oil and Gas. Inc  was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The agencies say the 21 spills from 2005 to 2010 stemmed from ruptured storage tanks, corroded pipelines and overflowing ponds. The company, which also is known as HVI Cat Canyon Inc., failed to take measures mandated by the Clean Water Act, according to the lawsuit.

Andrew deVegvar, the company’s president, said in an interview that most of the spills were minor and none caused harm to the environment. He said Greka is in full compliance with federal regulations.

The lawsuit seeks more than $2.4 million for cleanup expenses and an unspecified amount for  harm to natural resources. Last March, Greka agreed to a $2 million settlement with Santa Barbara County over issues related to spills.

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--Steve Chawkins

Photo: A Greka Oil and Gas cleanup crew works on an oil spill flowing down a creek in January 2008 behind Firestone Vineyard, north of Los Olivos. Government officials in California sued the oil company for spills of crude oil and other harmful pollutants in Santa Barbara County waterways over five years. The U.S. Department of Justice along with state and federal environmental regulatory agencies filed the complaint Friday, June 17, 2011 in federal court. Credit: AP Photo/Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Capt. Eli Iskow

 
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