Enforcement

City and County of San Francisco Clean Water Act Settlement

SAN FRANCISCO (November 2, 2009) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking action against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency following federal violations of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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Overview and Location of Facilities

The City and County of San Francisco is a municipality organized under the laws of California that operates the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency ("SFMTA") and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission ("SFPUC"). The SFMTA operates a diverse fleet of trolley cars, street cars, light rail, alternative fuel vehicles and 495 diesel buses that are serviced and re-fueled at facilities owned and operated by the SFMTA. The SFPUC provides water, wastewater and municipal power services.

Between November and December 2005, approximately 940 barrels (39,488 gallons) of red dye diesel fuel were discharged from one of the Municipality's underground storage tanks (USTs) at the John M. Woods Motor Coach Facility (Woods Motor Coach Facility). The diesel spread through a piping system into a storm drain, through wastewater collection piping to a pump station, into Islais Creek and eventually San Francisco Bay.

The discharge was caused by a ruptured hose. The leak continued for several days, as sensors, flashers and alarm reports and other leak indicators were ignored. This failure by SFMTA to comply with federal requirements for the management of USTs resulted in the release of diesel fuel and Clean Water Act discharge and pretreatment violations.

After this spill, EPA conducted inspections at several of SFMTA's facilities and identified violations of EPA's spill prevention regulations at three of them: Flynn, Kirkland, and Marin.

The five facilities covered by this settlement are in the City and County of San Francisco:

  • Woods Motor Coach Facility - 1095 Indiana Street
  • Flynn Motor Coach Facility - 15th and Harrison Street
  • Kirkland Motor Coach Facility - 151 Beach Street
  • Marin Fuel Stand - 1399 Main Street
  • Southeast Water Collection System Pump Station

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Violations

  • Clean Water Act (CWA) Sections 311(b), 301(a), 307(d)
  • Oil Pollution Prevention regulations issued pursuant to CWA Section 311(j )(the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Section 9003(a)

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Injunctive Relief

  • The Consent Decree requires San Francisco to implement an Incident Command System (ICS) Exit training program.
  • San Francisco must appoint an ICS training coordinator to implement the program.
  • San Francisco employees in certain position categories must complete and renew at least every 2 years, ICS level 100 and 200 training.
  • Other identified employee positions must complete and renew at least every 2 years, ICS level 300 and 400 level training, if they are reasonably expected to coordinate with any Incident Response Management Team.
  • San Francisco must maintain training certification documents and provide them to EPA upon request.
  • San Francisco must also ensure that any contractor, including contractor employees who engage in any aspect of incident response on behalf of San Francisco, have completed the corresponding level of ICS training prior to performing any incident response activity.
  • San Francisco must include language to this effect in any contract regarding incident response.
  • San Francisco must submit an annual report to EPA with information addressing the ICS training program requirements.

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Pollutants Addressed

  • The oil spill of red dye diesel fuel addressed by this settlement discharged at least 940 barrels of oil (39,488 gallons).
  • The oil storage capacity of the facilities addressed by this settlement is a total of 137,500 gallons that are subject to SPCC requirements.
  • For more information about Oil Pollution Prevention rule requirements

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Environmental Effects

The oil spill of red dye diesel fuel addressed by this settlement discharged at least 940 barrels of oil (39,488 gallons). Oil spills are known to cause both immediate and long-term harm to human health and ecosystems. Oil prevents oxygen in water and can suffocate wildlife.

Oil emulsions may stick to the gills of fish or coat and destroy algae or other plankton. Floating oil may reduce water exposure to the circulation of oxygen and, in conjunction with emulsified oil, interfere with photosynthesis.

Oil slicks can kill birds, contaminate food sources, reduce animal and plant reproduction and contaminate nesting habitats. Oil spills can cause long-term effects years later even if the oil remains in the environment for a relatively short period of time.

Petroleum oils can also undergo oxidation and polymerization reactions and can form tars that persist in the environment for years. These harms will be prevented by EPA's Section 311 enforcement efforts and this settlement agreement. Please see EPA's Emergency Management pages for more information about the effects of chemicals, hazardous substances and oils on the environment.

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Civil Penalty

San Francisco will pay a total penalty of $250,000 to resolve its alleged liability for CWA and RCRA violations, of which $227,000 will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund for CWA Section 311 discharge and SPCC violations. The remaining $23,000 will be paid to the U.S. Treasury for CWA pretreatment and RCRA violations.


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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For additional information, contact:

Cheryl Rose
Senior Attorney
Water Enforcement Division
Office of Civil Enforcement - OECA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
(202) 564-4136
rose.cheryl@epa.gov