Calif. AG, Chevron reach $24.5M agreement

By Bryan Cohen | Sep 8, 2011


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Wednesday the filing of a proposed $24.5 million settlement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Chevron Stations Inc.

The proposed settlement will resolve allegations that the companies violated state laws governing hazardous materials and waste by failing to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks used to store gasoline for retail sale.

"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."

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul V. Gallegos, Merced County District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, Nevada County District Attorney Clifford Newall and Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully joined the Attorney General's Office in filing the action.

The complaint, filed last week, alleged that Chevron has violated anti-pollution laws since 1998.

Specifically, with respect to the underground storage tanks, the oil company allegedly tampered with or disabled leak detection devices and failed to test secondary containment systems, conduct monthly inspections, train employees in proper protocol, and maintain operational alarm systems, among other violations.

In addition, a statewide investigation found violations of hazardous materials and waste laws and regulations at gas stations in 32 counties across the state, Harris' office said.

The parties have agreed to resolve the matter, and Wednesday submitted to the Alameda County Superior Court a proposed final judgment that would impose a permanent injunction on the defendants.

The hearing on the motion for judicial approval of the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 29.

If approved by the court, 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, among other requirements.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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