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Former owner of Summerland gas station pays $165,000 in civil penalties to settle lawsuit


SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced Thursday that the Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit settled a civil action against the former owner of the gas station on Lillie Avenue in Summerland.

Dudley said that Summerland Market, Inc., and Elian Mtanous Hanna, the former operators of underground storage tanks ("UST") at the gas station, settled with the following provisions:

  • $165,000 in civil penalties.
    • $100,000 to Santa Barbara County, for the exclusive use by the District Attorney for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.
    • $42,500 to Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency ("CUPA").
    • $11,250 to Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.
    • $7,500 to California General Fund, Toxic Substances Control Account.
    • $3,750 to California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
  • $4,037.50 in cost reimbursement to Santa Barbara County CUPA.
  • Injunction requiring the defendants to comply with environmental laws and regulations.

Dudley said that the case arose after CUPA inspectors documented numerous, repeated violations of state law concerning the operation of USTs containing gasoline, handling of hazardous materials, and management of hazardous waste. 

The station is now under new ownership,

The civil complaint filed in December 2018 alleged unlawful conduct over the course of nearly five years, beginning in August 2013, according to the DA's Office.

Dudley said that the alleged violations include operating a UST without the required CUPA permit, disabling the automatic leak-detection system, not keeping leak-detection sensors in a position to detect leaks at the earliest possible opportunity, failing to test the secondary-containment system in a timely manner, failing to annually certify the leak-detection monitoring equipment, unlawfully disposing hazardous waste and failing to establish and implement a Hazardous Materials Business Plan.

The DA's Office added that these alleged violations came a month after the District Attorney resolved a prior civil action against these same defendants for $30,000 in civil penalties

"These repeated violations were committed despite a prior enforcement action. The defendants’ apparent disregard for our community’s well-being showed a pattern of behavior that repeatedly threatened the safety of the public, employees, first responders, and our environment," said Dudley. "Our office will always seek to protect our community from the formidable dangers related to underground storage tanks, hazardous materials and hazardous waste."

EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated to make clear the settlement involved the former owner of the gas station, and not the new/current owner.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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