Bay Area/ Oakland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 13, 2024
California Department of General Services Settles for $2.665 Million Over Environmental ViolationsSource: Google Street View

The State of California will cough up $2.665 million in a settlement over environmental violations, according to Alameda County's top prosecutor. This deal, clinched earlier this week, penalizes the California Department of General Services (DGS) for flubs in handling and storing hazardous substances, with Alameda County pocketing a cool $879,333 in civil penalties. Pamela Price, the Alameda County District Attorney, spearheaded the action, which saw her office and the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office joining forces to hold DGS to account.

"The State of California, like any other entity, is liable for ensuring it follows the laws meant to protect the public and our environment and the disposal of hazardous materials," Price said in a statement. As revealed by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the violations stem from DGS's disregard for the upkeep of its underground storage facilities in Sacramento and an Oakland site. They failed to swiftly perform mandatory inspections and testing, operated storage tanks without a permit, skimped on employee training, and blundered in maintaining essential records.

The total cash to be forked over by DGS comes from previous wrangles with Sacramento County. Alongside civil penalties, DGS will fund efforts to improve statewide environmental training and enforcement to $350,000. This is on top of the civil penalties, wherein Alameda County's cut is pegged at $879,333. While the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health will snag most of the cash with $813,833, the District Attorney's Office is up for a $45,500 slice, and $20,000 will go back to cover the District Attorney's costs.

DGS also has agreed to toe the line with a permanent injunction that requires them to fully comply with environmental laws going forward. "My office’s commitment to hold government agencies accountable when they fail to protect public health and the environment from harm because of unlawful mismanagement," Price emphasized, signaling a tough stand on environmental compliance.