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Santa Barbara oil company accused of polluting waterways in 21 spills

June 17, 2011 |  6:43 pm

An oil company in Santa Barbara County polluted inland waterways during operations that included 21 onshore spills in five years, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by state and federal regulators.

The U.S. Department of Justice, California Department of Fish and Game and California Regional Water Quality Control Board are seeking more than $2.4 million for cleanup expenses and an unspecified amount for alleged harm to natural resources.

Greka Oil and Gas Inc. acknowledges the spills. But company President Andrew deVegvar said in an interview that most of them were minor and none damaged the environment. He said Greka -– which also is known as HVI Cat Canyon Inc. -– is in full compliance with federal regulations.

According to the lawsuit, the company failed to take measures mandated by the Clean Water Act. Its facilities included corroded pipelines and ruptured storage tanks, according to the suit.

Last March, Greka agreed to a $2-million settlement with Santa Barbara County over issues related to the spills.

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-- Steve Chawkins

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