California Attorney General Kamala Harris and district attorneys from eight California counties have filed a civil lawsuit against BP and its subsidiary Arco over what appears to be a chronic habit of violating state laws controlling the handling of hazardous materials and hazardous waste.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, accuses BP Products North America, BP West Coast Products, and Atlantic Richfield Co. (Arco) of flouting state laws since 2006 by failing to maintain, monitor, and inspect underground fuel storage tanks at about 800 BP and Arco gas stations throughout California. The lawsuit also accuses the energy companies of tampering with and disabling devices on the storage tanks that warn of a fuel leak. The mechanisms play a critical role in preventing refined fuels from entering the soil and watertable.
Harris said that inspectors had found the companies violated the anti-pollution laws in 37 of the state’s 58 counties.
“California’s hazardous waste laws safeguard public health and this lawsuit ensures proper maintenance of the tanks that store fuel beneath California’s communities,” Harris said in a statement. “Safe storage of gasoline is not only common sense, it is essential to protecting the integrity of California’s groundwater resources,” she said.
BP pleaded guilty on January 30 to 14 criminal charges stemming from its 2010 Deepwater Horizon blast and oil spill, which killed 11 workers and released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil giant agreed to pay $4 billion to settle the charges, but it still faces a number of civil penalties for its role in causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Those civil claims against BP will be tried in New Orleans starting February 25.