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Safeway Will Pay $8M After Skirting Underground Gas Storage Regulations

Close up of the arm of a person wearing a brown leather jacket pumping gas into a grey car.
Safeway settles in a lawsuit that finds them in violation of several state laws.
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Just one leaked gallon of gas can contaminate up to 1 million gallons of groundwater.

That’s according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who announced on Friday that an investigation found that Safeway failed to “install, implement, and operate various spill prevention and safety measures” while operating underground gas storage tanks.

That settlement involves 71 Safeway gas stations across California and resolves allegations by Bonta and five district attorney offices across the state that the company violated environmental regulations since at least March 2015.

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Representatives for Safeway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Laws In Question

Bonta alleges that Safeway violated state laws by:

  • Failing to install and maintain automatic line leak detectors
  • Failing to construct and operate secondary gas containment systems
  • Failing to continuously monitor and conduct required testing of underground storage tank systems
  • Failing to properly notify local agencies when there was a leak.

“The reality is, accidents happen,” Bonta said. “Without proper safety measures in place, an avoidable crisis can become an environmental catastrophe.”

Counties Involved

The district attorney offices in Contra Costa County, Placer County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, and Solano County were involved in the settlement.

Bonta said Safeway will now pay $7.5 million dollars in civil penalties and another $500,000 to fund environmental projects.

The company will also adhere to regulations for installing and maintaining automatic leak detectors and secondary containment systems, monitor and test the systems, and employ an environmental compliance manager to stay on top of state laws.

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