|For Immediate Release
January 6th, 2005
Media Relations Spokesperson
SHELL OIL COMPANY AGREES TO PAY ORANGE COUNTY UP TO $14.5 MILLION PLUS A “BLANK CHECK” FOR CLEAN UP OF MORE THAN 170 CONTAMINATED SITES
Santa Ana – District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has announced the settlement of a multi-million dollar environmental protection lawsuit against Shell Oil Company and related entities Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc., Equiva Services LLC, and Equilon Enterprise LLC. This follows successful litigation against the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in 2002 and Thrifty Oil Co. in 2003. These lawsuits represent the first civil litigation of this kind in the nation to be prosecuted by a local district attorney.
Judgment Achieves Total Recovery of Costs, Complete Cleanup and Full Compliance
Shell must pay up to $10.5 million for a Plume Delineation program to determine the scope and extent of the contamination at former and existing gasoline station sites throughout the county.
Shell is required to clean up and remediate the contamination at each of the former and existing 184 Shell and Texaco sites in Orange County. There is no limit on the amount that may be required to be spent by the defendants for cleanup.
Shell must pay $3.5 million to a Prosecution Trust Fund for the Consumer and Environmental/Economic Crimes divisions of the Orange County District Attorney’s office. This money will be used to reimburse costs associated with the prosecution of this case and will finance future investigations and prosecutions.
Shell will make payments totaling $500,000 to the Orange County Health Care Agency, Anaheim Fire Department, Fullerton Fire Department, Orange Fire Department and Santa Ana Fire Department for investigation and enforcement of underground storage tank programs in the county.
Shell must attain and remain in full compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements related to the ownership and operation of underground gasoline storage tanks at all of its gasoline station sites throughout Orange County.
Orange County District Attorney Takes Preventive Steps
“Orange County gets about half of its drinking water from our groundwater. If it were to be polluted it would be virtually impossible to get that precious commodity back,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Water is what sustains our life, our lifestyles. By cleaning up the ground, thus preventing the drinking water from becoming contaminated, we can all feel safe that the water we drink, cook with and bathe in is free of harmful chemicals.”
Threat to Supply of Drinking Water Discovered
District Attorney Rackauckas made the decision to file this environmental protection lawsuit based upon reports filed by the Orange County Health Care Agency and investigations by the Anaheim, Fullerton, Orange and Santa Ana Fire Departments. These reports indicated numerous violations of state laws regulating the installation and operation of underground gasoline storage tanks. Attempts by local agencies to secure appropriate compliance with these laws had not succeeded. The district attorney concluded that, in view of this, an enforcement action by his prosecutors was both necessary and warranted.