SFMTA fined over storage tank violations

The state’s Water Resources Control Board announced Monday a settlement with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for violating leak prevention regulations for hazardous substances at four underground storage tanks.

Regulators said the transit agency will have to pay $425,000 in civil penalties to the state water board and another $100,000 for the reimbursement of enforcement costs connected the underground tanks holding gasoline and diesel fuel.

An additional $375,000 could be added if the SFMTA does not complete several actions to become compliant with underground storage tank laws. On top of that, the SFMTA has to remain compliant for five years or face another $450,000 fine.

The water board said it began its investigation of four facilities owned and operated by the SFMTA in 2012. Investigators found numerous violations including failure to monitor tank systems, failure to maintain adequate spill containment, failure to perform monthly inspections and falsifying monthly reports.

The complaint by the water board said the underground storage tanks stored petroleum-based fuels such as unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel.

This is not the first time the transit agency has violated underground storage tank laws.

The Environmental Protection Agency fined the SFMTA for $250,000 in 2005 for 39,000 gallons of diesel fuel that spilled into the Bay at the John M. Woods Motor Coach Facility. Regulators said sensors and alarms were ignored for days in that incident.

David Boyers, assistant chief counsel of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement, said the 2005 spill indicted to the water board that other government agencies may be violating underground storage tank laws so it created the Government Owned Tanks initiative.

Boyers said he hopes the settlement marks a turning point for the SFMTA to prioritize compliance with regulations.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the transit agency is taking a number of actions to address the concerns by the Water Resources Board including implementing the underground storage tank compliance management program within 30 days and developing a system that better maintains records and documents of the transit agency’s underground tanks:

“This is a fair and reasonable resolution that allows us to ensure that proper steps are followed going forward.”

He said the transit agency is also removing single-walled underground storage tanks from the Kirkland Yard.