$24.5-million settlement proposed for Chevron
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday proposed a $24.5-million settlement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Chevron Stations Inc. to resolve allegations that the companies failed to properly inspect and maintain underground storage tanks at 650 gas stations statewide.
The proposal comes in response to a complaint filed Friday alleging that Chevron since 1998 has violated anti-pollution laws by tampering with or disabling leak-detection devices and failing to test secondary containment systems and conduct monthly inspections. The companies also are accused of failing to train employees in proper protocols related to the tanks and of not maintaining operational alarm systems or evacuation plans.
"There must be accountability and consequences when the environment is compromised and innocent people are potentially exposed to hazardous materials that could endanger their health," Harris said in a statement. "This settlement accomplishes both and will protect Californians by mandating a compliance program for Chevron's underground storage tanks."
Violations of hazardous-materials and hazardous-waste laws and regulations were found at gas stations in 32 counties across the state, Harris said.
Chevron spokesman Sean Come said in a statement: "We have taken the appropriate actions to address the situations related to this issue and will work to avoid similar occurrences in the future. To fully understand the situation, it is important to note the majority of the incidents were technical violations, such as improper paperwork. None of the violations involved any risk to human health or the environment."
State lawyers on Wednesday submitted a proposed final judgment in Alameda County Superior Court that would impose a permanent injunction on the defendants. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 29.
If approved, the settlement would require Chevron to maintain a statewide compliance program, which includes a training program for employees and a database to track how underground storage tanks are monitored.
-- Louis Sahagun
Photo: A Chevron pump in Vallejo. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press