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State wins $19.5-million judgment from Shell over violations at gas stations

State officials today announced a $19.5-million judgment over allegations that Shell gas stations violated California environmental laws.

The judgment caps a three-year investigation into allegations that the company violated state rules in the underground storage of fuel at its gas stations.

"Shell Oil Co. disregarded the state's underground fuel storage and hazardous waste laws, committing hundreds of environmental violations at its gasoline stations across California," Atty Gen. Jerry Brown said in a statement today. "This judgment requires the company to pay $19.5 million in penalties, comply with state law and improve its spill monitoring, employee training and hazardous waste management."

According to Brown's statement, his office and the California State Water Resources Control Board found numerous violations during an investigation that included inspections of 1,000 gas stations around the state.

-- Shelby Grad

Comments () | Archives (11)

$19.5 million! How cruel. It'll take them several seconds to make that up.

Couldn't they have gotten more than $19.5 million? The violation seems worth something in the hundreds of millions or billions! Am I wrong? I mean, Shell was storing fuel underground and, apparently, harming the environment. 19.5 million just seems like chump change. Plus, a larger settlement would possibly have helped California pay its bills and stopped the state from digging deeper into taxpayer's pockets.

All of the stations that I know store fuel underground. What did Shell do that was different?

When will Chevron pay this fine? Is there a deadline? CA will be lucky if we see a dime from this company ~~~ not that they can't afford it.

Correction: Sorry, I meant to say Shell. Maybe it was a freudian slip. Those oil companies all seem the same to me.

There are a number of things they may have done. Federal law falls into three categories: construction of the tanks, operation of the tanks and monitoring for spills.

An earlier filing against TravelCenters alleged the following:
- Improperly raised, altered, tampered, or disabled sensors in spill boxes that detect leaks;
- Failed to identify the date the hazardous materials were received;
- Failed to manage hazardous waste containers;
- Failed to maintain documentation of employee training;
- Failed to identify an emergency coordinator;
- Failed to inspect container storage areas;
- Failed to store incompatible wastes in separate containers;
- Failed to remove accumulated liquid or debris from the secondary containment system;
- Failed to have an operational audible/visual alarm system connected for continuous monitoring;
- Failed to have emergency response plans; and
- Failed to maintain a complete hazardous materials business plan.

Once the pollution dirties a groundwater basin it is almost impossible to clean up, hence the focus on preventative measures on the more than 180,000 LUSTs (Liquid Underground Storage Tanks) in California.

The investigation probably cost more than the stupid settlement.
19.5 million for Shell is a joke. They will probably find it cheaper to keep breaking the law.

I guess Shell Oil will be forced into cost-cutting measures and serve only room-temperature water on their corporate jet FLEET for a while now...after this humiliating penalty.

It just pains me to see multi-nationals get humbled like this. (And, so often; they never get any 2nd chances...)

I think "DanR" and "cg" got it right. $19.5 million is chump change for an oil company! One of their exec's could pay for that with part of his yearly bonus!! Come think of it, if Shell got any bailout money, we, the taxpayers, are paying that fine!! A--holes!

The citizens get poisoned, but the government employees get the money!

Hooray for California for enforcing environmental laws instead of rolling over for big business lobbyists.

All gas stations need leak proof underground containers. The tanks of these stations are 50 or more years old and seep gas and oil into the soil. Only the pumps and stores have been upgraded.


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