Chevron Reaches Proposed Settlement With California AG Over USTs

Would require oil co. to maintain compliance, training program, monitoring database, more

Kamala D. Harris

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has announced the filing of a proposed $24.5 million settlement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Chevron Stations Inc. The proposed settlement will resolve law enforcement allegations that the companies violated state laws governing hazardous materials and hazardous waste by failing to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks (USTs) used to store gasoline for retail sale.

A statewide investigation found violations of hazardous materials and hazardous waste laws and regulations at 650 gas stations in 32 counties across the state.

The parties have agreed to resolve the matter, and have submitted to 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 September 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 USTs are monitored, among other requirements.

"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. "This settlement accomplishes both, and will protect Californians by mandating a compliance program for Chevron's underground storage tanks."

Chevron spokesperson Sean Come told EMoney Daily, "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."

The AG's office was joined in this enforcement action by 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.

The complaint, filed September 2, alleges that since 1998 Chevron has violated anti-pollution laws with respect to USTs by tampering with or disabling leak detection devices and failing to test secondary containment systems, conduct monthly inspections, train employees in proper protocol and maintain operational alarm systems, among other violations.

Deputy Attorney General Brett J. Morris handled the case for Attorney General Harris' Environment Section.

Click here to view a copy of the complaint.