Chevron Settles Two UST Lawsuits

Is second major oil company to reach resolution

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Chevron Corp. recently settled two lawsuits involving the oil giant's unsafe underground storage practices at gas stations across the state of California, according to District Attorney Jan Scully.

Both lawsuits--one filed by Scully's office, the other by the state attorney general's office--involve gas stations in Sacramento County where underground storage tanks were found to be faulty, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

Scully applauded the settlements as "a major achievement in the enforcement of environmental laws."

Scully's battle with Chevron began in 2003, when her office filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court against several major oil companies to force them to pay for the cleanup of MTBE-polluted groundwater at 580 sites across the county.

Shell, one of the defendants, settled with Scully's office in December 2009 and later paid $3 million. In the latest settlement, Chevron agreed to pay $750,000 to the county's Environmental Management Division for cleanup efforts at its sites.

A trial date has been set for November for the remaining defendants, Scully said.

The district attorney's lawsuit involved 650 Chevron-owned gas stations across the state, 31 of which are in Sacramento County, and alleged violations of anti-pollution laws regarding, among other issues, underground storage of gasoline.

In that settlement, Chevron admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $24.5 million in penalties, restitution and investigation costs, according to the district attorney.

Chevron also will reimburse $3 million of Scully's costs for investigating and prosecuting the case.

"This area of litigation is a very unique, complicated area of litigation," Scully said. "It's not your run-of-the-mill case, and you're up against the big leagues of attorneys. … It was a long-term investment."

Of the $3 million in reimbursements, $1.6 million will go into Scully's general fund, and $1.4 million will go into a trust fund for environmental and consumer prosecutions.

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