Santa Maria gas station owner ordered to pay $15k in environmental violations

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The owner of a Santa Maria gas station has agreed to pay $15,000 in fines as part of environmental violations related to non-functioning gas leak detection sensors.

Saleem Patel is the owner and operator of Spirit Gasoline in Santa Maria.

In March 2018, inspectors from the Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) found multiple leak-detecting sensors in the underground fuel tank system were incapable of detective fuel leaks as soon as possible as required by law. The sensors were elevated inside the fuel tank system at Spirit Gasoline.

According to Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Patel cooperated with authorities and upgraded equipment at Spirit Gasoline and another station which he owned in Lompoc. 

Patel also agreed to pay civil penalties for the violations and reimbursement for the investigation costs.

Patel paid $15,000 in civil penalties, with half going to the County and the other half to CUPA. The total cost of reimbursement for investigation and enforcement costs.

An injunction was also made against Patel which will make it easier to enforce future compliance with the health and safety code.

"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," said Dudley in a press release. 

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