The owner of a Santa Maria gas station will pay more than $15,000 to Santa Barbara County to settle a civil action filed after inspectors found multiple sensors to detect fuel leaks in improperly elevated positions. 

In March 2018, inspectors from the Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) discovered several leak-detection sensors in the underground fuel tank system at Spirit Gasoline had been elevated, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said. In an elevated position, the sensors were incapable of detecting a fuel leak at the earliest possible opportunity, as the law requires. 

On Monday, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced Saleem Patel, owner and operator of Spirit Gasoline, agreed to resolve the civil action by paying civil penalties totaling $15,000 to the county and $1,710 to the CUPA as reimbursement for investigation and enforcement costs.

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The agreement also includes an injunction against Patel 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," Dudley said in a news release. "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.”

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