The California Attorney General and seven participating counties announced an $11.5 million settlement Thursday with ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 for violating California’s environmental protection laws.
The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office in January 2013 joined with the California Attorney General and six other District Attorney’s offices in bringing a civil lawsuit against ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 for violating California’s environmental protection laws by failing to properly maintain and inspect underground gasoline storage tanks at company-owned or operated gasoline stations throughout the state.
An investigation conducted into the complaint showed that the two companies caused harm to surrounding water supplies and ran afoul of California’s hazardous waste laws and hazardous materials laws as they indulged in improper storage of gasoline at 560 gasoline stations in California. The Houston-based companies denied any guilt but agreed to pay $1.5 million in legal expenses, $1 million contribution towards environmental projects in California and $9 million in civil fines.
The Alameda county district attorney Nancy O’ Malley believed that the settlement was important as it would hold all those companies responsible that breach the state’s environmental laws. California attorney general Kamala Harris was of the view that the settlement that was reached will hold oil companies responsible for posing a danger to nearby water supplies since 2006 and will go a long way in making them fall in line with environmental laws.
Ms. Harris accused the companies of breaking anti-pollution laws that pertained to their underground storage tanks. She said that ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 were both negligent in operating and maintaining their underground gasoline storage tanks. The Attorney General added that the gasoline stored in these tanks was then sold to the public.
In the complaint, the two companies are mainly accused of violating state environmental laws by not maintaining operational alarm systems, training employees in proper protocol, conducting monthly inspections, testing secondary containment systems and maintaining leak detection devices in a proper way.
The Attorney General further informed that both ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 had sold most of their stake in underground tank storage sites in California.