Attorney General Lockyer Announces Lawsuit Against Flying J for Tampering With Leak Sensors and Failing to Test
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today filed a lawsuit alleging Flying J. Inc. committed numerous violations of underground storage tank laws and tampered with leak detection devices at six of its truck stops and travel plazas in California.
“Not only did Flying J repeatedly fail to inspect its underground tanks, even worse, it disabled leak sensors,” said Lockyer. “This flagrant violation of the law put our public health, communities and the environment at great risk from gasoline and diesel spills. Company officials refused the opportunity to voluntarily come into compliance with the law, so we are filing this lawsuit to force them to clean up their act.”
Lockyer filed the lawsuit jointly with five District Attorneys: Edward Jagels, Kern County; Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County; Grover Trask II, Riverside County; Michael Ramos, San Bernardino County; and James Willett, San Joaquin County.
Independent investigations by local regulatory agencies revealed that Flying J, based in Ogden, Utah, repeatedly failed to correct problems with its underground tank systems at each of its retail facilities, even after it was advised of violations.
The complaint, filed in the San Joaquin Superior Court, alleges that Flying J violated 50 separate provisions of California’s Health and Safety Code and Unfair Competition Law. Additionally, the complaint alleges Flying J tampered with and disabled leak detection systems, which alert operators of potential leaks and spills from tank systems. The company also failed to properly train its employees in the management of hazardous materials and wastes generated from its operations, according to the complaint. Flying J faces multi-million dollar penalties for its misconduct.
Today’s action is the latest effort by Lockyer to work with local prosecutors and investigators to prosecute companies that break environmental laws at multiple facilities throughout the state. Assisting with locally-initiated investigations is essential because many environmental laws, such as those governing underground storage tank inspections, are enforced by local agencies. Such joint efforts ensure violations are fixed at all of a company’s locations in the state.
Earlier this year, Lockyer and local prosecutors announced a $25 million enforcement settlement with AT&T for underground storage tank violations. The settlement was the second highest in the nation in such a case.