Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell and three other counties brought a lawsuit in August 2011, against Chevron U.S.A. Inc. for environmental violations related to Underground Storage Tanks (USTs). In September of 2011, the case settled. The Judgment includes a permanent injunction against Chevron to clean up their USTs and comply with all regulatory laws. The Judgment also imposed $24,500,000 in civil penalties and costs.
Investigators found that Chevron had violated UST laws throughout the state by tampering with or disabling leak detection devices, failing to test secondary containment systems, not conducting monthly inspections, inadequate training of employees in proper protocol, and maintenance of operational alarm systems, among other violations. The investigation also revealed hazardous materials and hazardous waste violations as well. “It is very important to hold businesses accountable for these types of violations that have great potential to harm our citizens’ health and the environment.” noted D.A. Newell.
The penalties were divided among the plaintiffs on a pro-rata basis. Nevada County District Attorney’s Office received $210,000 and Nevada County Department of Environmental Health received $150,000 of the penalties. District Attorney Cliff Newell will use the DA portion to defray costs associated with the investigation and prosecution and to enhance future prosecutions and enforcement efforts. “We will use this money to insure that we are technologically capable of continued top-notch prosecutions” said Newell.
Director of Environmental Health Wes Nicks indicated the settlement money received by his department will be used to supplement and enhance Nevada County’s UST inspection and Enforcement Program. Efforts to improve prevention programs will also be implemented.