The owner of Spirit Gasoline station in Santa Maria has settled an environmental lawsuit with Santa Barbara County.
In March 2018 Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency inspectors discovered multiple leak-detection sensors in the underground fuel tank system at Spirit Gasoline had been elevated.
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Dalby said the sensors are supposed to sit at the bottom of a chamber so they can detect a leak as soon as fuel falls into the chamber. Because they were elevated, the sensors would not detect any fuel in the chamber until it rose to the sensors’ level.
The owner of the gas station, Saleem Patel, cooperated with the investigation. District Attorneys Office officials say he made equipment upgrades at his Spirit Gasoline and another station he owns in Lompoc.
The county filed the lawsuit July 3 and Mr. Patel agreed to pay $15,000 in civil penalties, $7,500 to Santa Barbara County and $7,500 to CUPA.
“These violations threatened our health and environment, as undetected fuel leaks can pollute our groundwater and are very expensive and time-consuming to clean up. We are grateful that the CUPA discovered the elevated sensors, and that Mr. Patel has taken the necessary steps to come into compliance with the law,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement.