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Multi-Year Investigation Finds 15 Defendants in Violation of Multiple UST Requirements and will pay a fine
The State Water Resources Control Board has conditionally banned two El Dorado County businessmen from owning or operating gas stations in California after a multi-year investigation accused them of violating multiple underground storage tank (UST) requirements.
Azad Amiri and Sarbjit S. Kang, along with 13 other defendants, have settled with the state Attorney General’s office and a combined $1 million fine will be paid to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement account.
“Tank owners and operators need to know that we will aggressively pursue individuals who violate the UST’s leak prevention requirements,” said Yvonne West, director of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement.
UST regulations are designed to protect groundwater from contamination by ensuring that underground storage tanks are properly constructed, maintained, tested and monitored to prevent and detect leaks as soon as possible. The alleged violations by Amiri, Kang and the other defendants included egregious violations, among them: operating facilities without permits; failing to conduct required testing and maintenance; failing to monitor for leaks; and unlawfully abandoning tanks. The settlement with the Attorney General’s office follows an investigation that began in 2006, involved 11 facilities in six northern California counties, and led to a 2014 civil complaint.
The case also included allegations that the defendants engaged in business practices designed to avoid liability, including the creation of shell companies and abusing the discovery process. The State Water Board filed 19 motions and was awarded $16,600 in monetary sanctions because of the defendants’ efforts to hinder the evidence-gathering process.
The primary defendants, Amiri and Kang, will be allowed to own and operate gas stations in the future only if they adhere to very strict conditions are met. These requirements will include the defendants employing an environmental coordinator to oversee compliance.
The multi-year investigation by the State Water Board included the cooperative efforts of the Department of Toxic Substance Control’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Contra Costa County Health Services, El Dorado County Environmental Management Department, Placer County Department of Environmental Health and Human Services, Sacramento County Environmental Management Department, San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department, Yolo County Department of Environmental Health, Yolo County District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Unit, and the Department of Toxic Substance Control’s Office of Criminal Investigations.