SOMA Environmental Engineering Disqualified from Participating in State Water Board Cleanup Fund

By on January 19, 2019

Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund) Consultant SOMA Environmental Engineering Inc. (SOMA) and its principal, Mansour Sepehr, have been disqualified from participating in any further State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) reimbursement programs, including the Cleanup Fund, following allegations of submitting false documents and padded invoices to the Cleanup Fund. As part of the December 2018 settlement between SOMA and the State Water Board, SOMA will pay a $200,000 penalty.

The SWRCB alleged that SOMA made misrepresentations to the Cleanup Fund including: invoicing the Cleanup Fund for markup on an affiliated company; double billing the Cleanup Fund for labor paid to Golden Gate 2 Remediation Technologies, Inc.: invoicing the Cleanup Fund for unnecessary site visits, remedial activities, and an unnecessary report: overbilling for senior review labor hours; and, misrepresentations in a well decommissioning report for a well decommissioning performed by a subcontractor. The investigation period pertained to a timeframe beginning in 2007 and ending on June 20, 2018.

Yvonne West, the State Water Board’s Director of the Office of Enforcement said “The State Water Board’s Fraud Prevention Unit was able to efficiently and effectively demonstrate by using video surveillance that work was not being conducted as claimed. This settlement puts a stop to abusive billing practices and protects State taxpayers from environmental fraud, waste and abuse.”

The Fraud Prevention Unit presented its alleged misrepresentations to SOMA last June and offered to settle the allegations as part of an administrative settlement. The parties were able to agree fully and ultimately settle the alleged violations for the $200,000 without administrative or civil litigation. SOMA is based in Pleasanton, CA.

Anyone suspecting fraud, waste and/or abuse against the Cleanup Fund can report the matter by email to: reportfraud@waterboards.ca.gov or by toll-free message line (1-855-263-0863), or by mailing or faxing a Fraud Reporting Complaint Form to the State Water Board at:

State Water Board
Office of Enforcement
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812
Fax: 916-341-5896

The SWRCB maintains an online list of disqualified businesses and persons banned from working for the State of California at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/enforcement/fwa/dbp.html. For more information on the State Water Board’s efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of fraud, waste and/or abuse against the Cleanup Fund, go to:  https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/publications_forms/publications/factsheets/docs/fraud_efforts_factsheet.pdf.