Attorney General accuses BP and Arco of environmental violations State, National, International, posted by Editor, Danville Weekly Online, on Feb 5, 2013 at 6:56 am
California Attorney General Kamala Harris and district attorneys from seven counties across the state filed suit Monday alleging that BP and Arco have engaged in environmental violations at more than 780 gas stations in the state.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, February 4, 2013, 3:50 PM
Posted by PSMacintosh, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 5, 2013 at 10:06 am
I wonder WHICH 7 COUNTIES have joined in to pay for this suit (and, of course, to collect monies from the suit)? Was Contra Costa a participant in this?
I sure hope that Harris WARNED these companies first, before jumping to the grand-standing lawsuit, by issuing to at least some stations a investigation report of the violations so they could correct them.
You would assume that she gave warning notices. But if not, then it looks more like she was setting them up and going for the publicity and the money.
I mean how do the Regulatory Agencies even LET 780 gas stations do it the wrong way without their being pretty bad at their regulatory job? I'd like to know how much warning and efforts to obtain corrections was done?
I don't trust the likes of Harris (or certain DA offices and smell a rat here.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm
Underground storage tanks have been heavily regulated for many years in California. Owners are responsible to maintaining and inspecting them. This is not a surprise to tank owners. Some owners simply do not make the effort (or spend the money) to maintain them. Meanwhile, they make money from use of the tanks. And soil and groundwater gets polluted when they leak (and it's not detected in time).
BTW, cleanup of groundwater polluted by gasoline is VERY expensive. It's much better to take care of the tanks, like they are supposed to.
Posted by John Muir's Ghost, a resident of another community, on Feb 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm
Here you go fellow Scotsman: the press release and, at the bottom, a copy of the Complaint with everything you ever wanted to know, but would probably rather just suspect. Web Link
There are over 9,000 gas stations in CA. Trying to ensure they are all in-compliance is a mix of on-site inspections, permitting and records audits, among other things. It's a good bet that these defendants, and Conoco-Phillips who were sued similarly last year, interpret the laws differently, and so haven't complied to the State's satisfaction. Or maybe they've just been sloppy -- it wouldn't be BP's first environmental spillage issue, would it? So the Staties opine, and warn, and eventually sue, covering all the stations owned or operated by BP and ARCO. If CA wins, then everybody else pretty much falls into line -- or tries to get the law changed.
It's how the system works. BTW, every AG-that-ever-was wants to be Governor. Hell, I once knew a DA in the southland who had every step mapped -- all the way to the Presidency! You, and I, may be grateful his cunning plan failed. But it ain't exactly news, laddie.
Posted by PSMacintosh, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm
Wee Ghost, thank you for the sites! Makes for an interesting read (if you're into legal writings).
I suspect that your surmise is correct that "It's a good bet that these defendants.... interpret the laws differently, and so haven't complied to the State's satisfaction."
I see that 41 of 780 stations are presented with their failings, with the implication that the other 739 were just as dirty....or were they?
I was looking for information that would shed light on my question of "what type and how much NOTICE and time for correction" had been given.
For each station, the complaint lists its violations for each year and sometimes going back to 2006.
In many cases, it looks like a station cured its failing of one year, only to be cited for DIFFERENT failings in a later year. Yet, in some cases, it looks like a station had the SAME recurring problem for a couple of years.
It certainly looks like there was probably plenty of NOTICE that there is a whole enormous body of complicated, detailed, picky rules and regulations that constantly have to be followed went to SOMEBODY and should have been acted upon by SOMEBODY. I'm now wondering whether that SOMEBODY is the oil companies or the franchise owners of the stations. It sounds to me like each station (or each 10 stations) needs to hire and pay for a FULL-TIME REGULATIONS COMPLIANCE PERSON in order to operate a gas station. Certainly not a business for the average person. (certainly need more than a foreigner sitting behind a counter. Need 3 years of specialized training.
And therein probably lies the problem (dating back to 2006)--a failure to recognize the true costs and full personnel requirements of running a gas station in this modern age of over-regulation.
Some of the violations sounded serious and important. Whereas others sounded to me (admittedly a novice) more questionable (improper labeling and storage of fluorescent bulbs and missing stickers).
I'm surprised (and actually quite unhappy) that they didn't site these stations for "failure to maintain clean bathrooms," but I guess that report falls to a different agency. (jest joking)
Ultimately I want a clean environment and ground water and am thankful for the better tanking systems of this era.
But it is eye-opening how tediously cumbersome it is to open your door for business each morning, especially in an industry that has been so politically singled-out for destruction as the oil industry. I wonder if the "green" industries (and also the "build a train to nowhere" project) are getting the same shake-down.....or handed some free passes to such regulatory investigations and reportings.
And people decry the "profits" these stations earn. Perhaps they earn every penny of it in blood-sweat and frustration. Only to be found subsequently financially liable for violations they cured 7 years ago.
Posted by PSMacintosh, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm
After reading the complaint, I side with X's posting, that Kamala Harris is probably just "using the taxpayer's money to further her gubenatorial asperations (sp)."
Are the oil companies REALLY trying to be so uncompilant and illegal in their behavior? I doubt it. I suspect that these issues are more "training" and "employee" problems, than criminal intention. And I also suspect that there hasn't been actual environmental damage happen here.
It's hard to believe that Harris couldn't have just sent a letter requesting a discussion of these problems with the oil companies and resolved these matters sitting around a table. What disturbs me is that I don't see any evidence of that type of NOTICE and effort being done by anybody in these agencies. So that smacks of a government and a State that just doesn't like business or profits or capitalism in the first place. Government workers who are all about Big Government and ultimately about nationalization/socialism/communism.
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Danville neighborhood, on Feb 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Once again, underground storage tank (UST) rules have been on the books for more than 20 years. Oil companies and station owners are well aware of the law. When the long-standing 2002 deadline rolled around for owners of USTs to have secondary containment in place around the tanks, many owners had simply ignored it -- even though they had about 10 years to comply. And they were given plenty of notice (Web Link) along the way.
Even though government bashing is a popular sport in some quarters, the comments above are simply off the mark. Plenty of notice was given to UST owners. A lawsuit like this is usually the last stop in a long series of notices of violation and communication between government agencies and the gas station owners.