Bryan Cohen Jan. 3, 2013, 9:34pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a civil lawsuit Thursday against ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 for allegedly failing to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks used for gasoline storage.

Since November 2006, ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 allegedly violated state law by improperly monitoring, inspecting and maintaining underground storage tanks for gasoline storage for retail sale and more than 560 California gas stations.

"The state's hazardous waste laws help protect our residents from contaminated groundwater," Harris said. "This lawsuit safeguards public health by ensuring proper maintenance of the tanks that store fuel beneath many California communities."

The defendants allegedly failed to test secondary containment systems, train employees in proper protocol, conduct monthly inspections and maintain operational alarm systems. ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 also allegedly disabled or tampered with leak detection devices and improperly handled and disposed of hazardous materials and wastes related to the underground storage tanks at retail gas stations throughout California.

Harris' office alleged that the defendants engaged in violations of hazardous waste and hazardous material laws and regulations at gas stations in 34 California counties.

Joining the enforcement action by Harris' office were Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos, Placer County District Attorney R. Scott Owens, Nevada County District Attorney Clifford Newell, Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley.

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