The city of Long Beach in California has been fined $2.5 million by the state for allegedly failing to properly maintain a number of underground fuel storage tanks in the city. The city is fighting the fine and claims that the state is using a narrow interpretation of language in a 2010 injunction filed by the state against the city for other underground storage tank violations. Learn more about what’s happening with this storage tank legal battle in our blog.
California Alleges Improper Storage Tank Maintenance in Long Beach
Back in 2010, the state fined the city to the tune of $6.2 million for failing “to perform required testing and monitoring, and [failing] to install leak prevention equipment at 40 of its underground tanks since about 2003.”
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, “The enforcement action was the first time the state had gone after a public agency,” and furthermore, “The additional $2.5 million represents another first: Long Beach is the first public agency subjected to a follow-up penalty.”
The injunction filed in 2010, “required the city to send updates and reports to the state board” about its underground storage tank maintenance practices. When the state board sent inspectors in 2013 to make sure the city was complying with the terms of the injunction, it found inconsistencies between what the city was reporting and what inspectors saw during inspections.
While the inconsistencies weren’t major problems such as covering up the release of fuel into the environment, the state in total found 29 violations.
Now in 2015, the state is seeking to levy a $2.5 million fine for these alleged violations. A judge at the Los Angeles County Superior Court upheld 3 of the violations.
In one case, the city took 45 days longer to update a monitoring system than the state says it should have taken.
In another, the city was unaware a required system test had not been conducted when a new tank was installed in 2013. The city conducted the test as soon as it was made aware.
The third alleged violation concerns a tank located on city property but privately owned and operated. The state claims the city failed to install tamper-proof sensors on the tank, but the city says because it is not owned or operated by the city that it is not liable.
The city plans to fight the fine.