Attorney General Accuses BP and Arco of Violations
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and district attorneys
from seven counties across the state filed suit today alleging that BP and
Arco have engaged in environmental violations at more than 780 gas stations
in the state.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges that
BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America, Inc., and Atlantic
Richfield Company have violated state laws governing hazardous materials and
hazardous waste by failing to properly inspect and maintain underground tanks
used to store gasoline for retail sale at gas stations in California.
Arco is a subsidiary of BP, which is headquartered in London.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley and prosecutors
from six other counties joined Harris in filing the suit.
The suit claims that since October 2006, the BP companies and ARCO
have improperly monitored, inspected and maintained the underground storage
It alleges that the oil companies tampered with or disabled leak
detection devices and failed to test secondary containment systems, conduct
monthly inspections, train employees on proper protocol, and maintain
operational alarm systems, among other violations.
The suit says inspectors from the Alameda County Department of
Environmental Health obtained documents that showed BP officials instructed
their service stations in Alameda County to maintain gasoline leak detection
sensors at a height contrary to California law.
The suit alleges that this resulted in leak detection sensors at
multiple ARCO stations in the county to be positioned so they were unable to
detect a fuel leak at the earliest possible opportunity.
The lawsuit also claims that the defendants improperly handled and
disposed of hazardous wastes and materials associated with the underground
storage tanks at retail gas stations throughout the state.
The suit says a statewide investigation found violations of
hazardous materials and hazardous waste laws and regulations at gas stations
in 37 counties across the state, including 28 gas stations in Alameda County.
O'Malley said in a statement, "The laws that regulate proper
handling and storage of hazardous materials are not trivial. They exist to
protect the precious and finite public resource that is a clean and safe
She said, "When a fuel leak occurs it can contaminate the soil and
groundwater for decades. We will not tolerate the dangerous and irresponsible
practice of cutting corners on environmental regulations."
BP officials could not immediately be reached for comment this
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