California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office issued a press release on Friday detailing an $8 million settlement with supermarket chain Safeway. The settlement will resolve allegations that the company violated various environmental laws when they were operating underground storage tank systems at gas stations throughout California.
The initial allegations centered around an investigation into Safeway’s California gas stations, Safeway and Vons fuel stations. The investigation “found a recurring failure to install, implement, and operate various spill prevention and safety measures since at least March 2015.”
Due to the high potential for soil and groundwater contamination, underground storage tank systems are under heavy regulation in California, according to the press release. All tank systems are required by California law to have primary and secondary levels of containment, continuous monitoring systems, constant vacuum pressure, equipment to prevent spills and leaks, and automatic leak detectors.
The recurring violations that Safeway had allegedly partaken in revolved around their failure to install and maintain automatic line leak detectors and secondary containment systems, maintain an effective monitoring system, continuously monitor and test the systems, and notify local agencies of a hazardous substance release in the proper manner.
The settlement sought to resolve the allegations and avoid potential contamination to soil and groundwater by setting terms that Safeway was to follow in order to improve their operational safety and general compliance with state laws.
According to the terms of the settlement, Safeway will owe $7.5 million in civil penalties and an additional $500,000 for investigative costs. Further, the company will “be required to take immediate steps to improve spill and alarm monitoring, employee training, hazardous waste management and emergency response at its gasoline stations.”
Attorney General Bonta said of the settlement, “California has strong regulations in place to prevent oil and gas from seeping into the ground and contaminating our drinking water. The reality is: Accidents happen. Without proper safety measures in place, an avoidable crisis can become an environmental catastrophe.”