MODESTO — Underground gasoline tanks at more than 780 Arco stations throughout California, including some in Stanislaus and Merced counties, could harm the environment, state and local prosecutors charge in a civil lawsuit against oil company BP.
In some cases, operators disabled leak detection devices, didn't fix leaks, failed to test overspill systems and improperly disposed of hazardous waste in incidents since 2006, the lawsuit says.
The problems amount to "procedural violations" and none hurt people, a BP spokesman told The Associated Press.
Targeted is a Modesto Arco station at the southwest corner of Tully Road and Bowen Avenue, according to the Stanislaus County Department of Environmental Resources.
A case against a Coffee Road station formerly owned by the company was closed when its tanks were removed in 2002, records say.
Leaky tanks can pollute groundwater as contaminants seep down.
"It's important to safeguard our natural resources and ensure that our groundwater is protected for future generations," Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager said in a statement.
She and Larry Morse II, district attorney of Merced County, joined California Attorney General Kamala Harris and prosecutors from six other counties in the lawsuit. It's similar to one last month brought against ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66.
Merced stations at 1625 McSwain Road and 3100 G St. are among 41 throughout California specifically noted in the lawsuit, all operated by BP subsidiaries BP West Coast Products, BP Products North America and Atlantic Richfield Co.
For example, the G Street station had faulty pipe sensors and problems with a spill container and overfill prevention system, among several others from 2009 to 2011, the lawsuit says. The McSwain Road station didn't file an operator certificate as required and had an overfill mechanism problem, the document says.
Violations at the Modesto station were not specified in the lawsuit, which follows a statewide investigation led by Harris' office that found problems in 37 of the state's 58 counties.
"We must be concerned for basic human health" and agribusiness, Fladager said.
"Leakage from underground storage tanks poses a significant risk of harm and we have a duty to the public to make sure that companies are following the law and meeting their obligations."
On the Net: http://tinyurl.com/aum4bo6.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2390.