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AG Bonta settles with Bay Area gas station owners over environmental violations

PIX Now -- Monday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Monday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 11:43

SACRAMENTO – The owners of 14 gas stations in the Bay Area, Northern and Central California have been ordered to pay $1.7 million to settle alleged environmental violations, prosecutors said.

Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that the station owners reached an agreement with his office, along with the district attorneys of Alameda, Lake, Mendocino, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties.

The defendants are identified as Bay Area/Diablo Petroleum Co. (dba Golden Gate Petroleum), Golden Gate Petroleum Co., Westgate Petroleum Company, Inc., Eastgate Petroleum LLC (dba Golden Gate Petroleum), and Dennis O'Keefe.

Court documents said the defendants own or operate stations in the Bay Area communities of Benicia, Brentwood, Cloverdale, El Sobrante, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond and San Jose. Outside the Bay Area, the defendants own gas stations in Atascadero, Lakeport, Los Osos and Wilits.

Bonta's office said the settlement stems from an investigation that found the facilities had a "recurring failure" to properly maintain, install, implement and operate spill prevention and safety measures involving underground and above-ground tanks. A total of 107 violations were alleged to have taken place, dating back to since at least 2013.

"We won't let companies cut corners in their handling of hazardous waste," Bonta said in a statement. "These defendants violated California's environmental laws for years; now, they will go above and beyond to ensure that their operations do not threaten public health and the safety of our communities."

Santa Clara Co. District Attorney Jeff Rosen said, "This resolution further ensures that ground water remains safe for the residents of Santa Clara County and the state as a whole."

According to Bonta, the defendants will pay $1.7 million in civil penalties. The gas station owners and operators have also agreed to more than a dozen terms, including the hiring of an environmental compliance coordinator and annual reporting requirements.

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