2 Sonoma County gas stations among 14 to pay $1.7 million in settlement for environmental violations
Owners and operators of 14 gas stations across Northern California, two of which were in Sonoma County, were ordered to pay $1.7 million in civil penalties after years of allegedly mishandling hazardous waste, according to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
The California Attorney General’s Office, along with district attorneys of Sonoma, Alameda, Lake, Mendocino and Santa Clara counties, announced Monday it settled the case, according to a news release from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants were Bay Area/Diablo Petroleum, Co., which did business as Golden Gate Petroleum; Westgate Petroleum Co; Westgate Petroleum Company, Inc.; Eastgate Petroleum LLC, which did business as Golden Gate Petroleum; and Golden Gate Petroleum CEO and President Dennis O’Keefe.
In 2018, the Attorney General's Office and multiple district attorneys filed a civil complaint against the defendants based on an investigation that found they had been violating state environmental laws since at least 2013 regarding the handling of hazardous waste and the operation of above-ground and underground storage tank systems.
The state sets strict regulations for these kinds of tanks because even a small leak could cause substantial soil or groundwater contamination, according to the release.
The complaint lists 107 alleged violations where the defendants failed to continuously monitor or test underground storage tanks and did not install and maintain leak monitoring and spill containment systems. The document also alleges the owners did not properly label and contain hazardous waste and failed to notify and comply with directions from local agencies regarding the release of hazardous materials.
Two of the gas stations, one of which is now closed, included in the complaint were located in Cloverdale, according to the release.
The settlement for the case requires the defendants to pay the $1.7 million and imposes multiple terms, including annual reporting requirements.
Sonoma County District Attorney Carla Rodriguez said in the release that the settlement is meant to show that not complying with state requirements for handling these kinds of resources “will not be taken lightly.”
In October 2022, Windsor became the latest Sonoma County municipality, following Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Sebastopol and Rohnert Park, to place a ban on the construction of new gas stations.
The adoption of a similar ban had been discussed in Cloverdale but on Nov. 9 its City Council voted 3-2 to table the proposal. This followed a Nov. 1 Fox Business interview with Cloverdale Mayor Todd Lands, during which he spoke against a ban.
You can reach Staff Writer Madison Smalstig at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @madi.smals.