East Bay News

California sues oil company for environmental violations

Monday, February 04, 2013

State Attorney General Kamala Harris is going after Arco and its parent company BP. In a lawsuit filed Monday, the state attorney general and seven counties are accusing the oil company of violating regulations designed to protect the environment.

The Arco gas station at Park Street and Encinal Avenue in Alameda, one of 7,000 Arco stations named in the suit, was deemed to be among the worst environmental violators in Alameda County.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Ken Misfud explains, "One of the most important regulations is to require certain sensors be inside certain areas of the underground storage compartment to make sure that if there is a fuel leak it's detected." He said.

The underground storage tanks at the Alameda station had sensors but instead of being placed next to the ground they were an inch above the ground so that the sensors would not go off unless the leak was severe.

"BP was actually instructing their service stations here in Alameda County that they can be raised up to an inch," Misfud said. "That would allow for a leak that wouldn't be detected for quite some time," he said.

Misfud says that sensor violation was the most egregious. Most of the other violations named in the suit have to do with maintaining equipment, proper monitoring, and training.

In a statement to ABC7 News, BP said the bulk of the allegations were procedural violations concerning documentation.

The statement read, "A small number of the alleged violations relate to the monitoring of tanks. None of the alleged violations posed any harm to human health or the environment."

BP suggests the attorney general is going after oil companies for money. The attorney general recently settled a similar case against Chevron for $24 million. There is another factor at play; Arco is selling off its stations. The station in Alameda was sold a little over a year ago, and the company is unloading more of them.

The deputy district attorney speculates that Arco's reason to sell is economic. The stations are liabilities for environmental problems like leaking underground storage tanks.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
kamala harris, lawsuit, alameda county, oil, east bay news, mark matthews
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