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Long Beach to pay $6.2-million settlement over violations of petroleum and waste oil storage rules

In the first enforcement of its kind against a public agency, the State Water Board on Tuesday said it has reached a $6.2 million settlement with the city of Long Beach for extensive violations of regulations governing the storage of petroleum and waste oil in underground storage tanks.

“The State Water Board will not tolerate violations of these important environmental protection laws,” said  Reed Sato, director of the board's office of enforcement, "and will take swift action against all violators, whether public or private.”

Long Beach has failed to perform required testing and monitoring and failed to install leak prevention equipment at 40 of its underground storage tank facilities, many of which are located at city fire and police stations.

The prevention systems are designed to ensure that toxic substances stored in the tanks do not leak and pollute groundwater resources. The city did not deny responsibility for the violations, Sato said.

Under terms of the settlement, the city will pay $1.5 million in cash within 30 days, in addition to $200,000 in reimbursement for the board’s costs of enforcement. The city is also required to provide $2.5 million in financial assurance will become due and payable if the city violates the underground storage tank laws again in the next five years.

“To send the message to other underground tank owners and operators that this type of violation is significant and will not be tolerated,” Sato said, the settlement requires that the city take out a full page advertisement in the Sunday edition of the Long Beach Press Telegram.

--Louis Sahagun

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