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Safeway agrees to $8M settlement over alleged environmental violations at gas stations

PIX Now -- Friday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Friday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 11:38

SACRAMENTO – Safeway has agreed to an $8 million settlement with California Attorney General Rob Bonta's office, along with several district attorneys, over alleged environmental violations at several dozen gas stations.

Bonta announced Friday that the grocery chain reached the settlement after investigators found evidence the grocery chain violated state laws regulating the operation of underground storage tanks and the handling of hazardous waste.

Alleged violations include failing to install and/or maintain automatic line leak detectors; failing to construct, operate and maintain secondary containment systems; failing to maintain a monitoring system capable of detecting leaks; and failing to monitor and conduct required testing of underground storage tank systems. Safeway also allegedly failed to properly notify local agencies of the release of a hazardous substance.

The alleged violations began in 2015 and involve 71 Safeway and Vons gas stations located across the state.

"California has strong regulations in place to prevent oil and gas from seeping into the ground and contaminating our drinking water," Bonta said. "The reality is: Accidents happen. Without proper safety measures in place, an avoidable crisis can become an environmental catastrophe."

The attorney general's office is joined by the district attorneys of Contra Costa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Solano Counties in the settlement.

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton said, "The protection of our environment is of paramount importance. That's why my office is committed to the prevention of environmental hazards like fuel spills and holding companies accountable to laws regulating such things as underground storage tanks."

As part of the settlement, Safeway will pay $8 million in civil penalties, which include $600,000 to fund several supplemental environmental projects, along with $500,000 for investigative costs. The grocery chain will also be required to improve spill and alarm monitoring, employee training, hazardous waste management and emergency response at its gas stations.

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