In a civil complaint filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Sept. 4, the District Attorney’s Office alleged Vreeland Ford violated three environmental protection statutes.
In the complaint, Vreeland Ford was accused of violating the Hazardous Waste Control Law by not properly labeling hazardous waste containers and not training personnel in the proper management of hazardous waste.
The complaint further alleged that Vreeland Ford lacked a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan in violation of the Aboveground Petroleum Storage Act.
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Additionally, Vreeland Ford was accused of failing to establish and implement a Hazardous Materials Business, a document necessary for first responders and the public to know what hazardous materials are present and how to safely deal with them in emergencies.
Vreeland Ford will have to pay $94,600 in civil penalties, of which $64,000 will go to the county, $13,750 to the Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency and District Attorney's Office, and $2,500 to the Toxic Substances Control Account in the state’s general fund. An additional $5,400 will go to the certified unified program agency for investigation and enforcement costs, and $10,000 will go to the Craig Thompson Environmental Protection Prosecution Fund.
The case originated with the Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency, a division of the Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services, which referred the case to the District Attorney's Office after Vreeland Ford was allegedly caught violating the three laws.
“These statutes exist to protect the public, first responders and the environment,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement. “We are grateful that Jim Vreeland Ford took this matter seriously and has come into compliance with the law.”
The settlement was made without admission of liability.
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Owner Jim Vreeland Jr. said that his dealership is in compliance with all California waste management laws.
“We are committed to operating our business responsibly,” Vreeland wrote in a statement. “While we are disappointed the District Attorney’s office chose to file the claims against us, we have worked with the District Attorney’s Office to reach a reasonable resolution of this matter. Jim Vreeland Ford was founded with the community in mind and will continue to remain conscientious of the community that we serve.”
The lawsuit’s final judgment also includes an injunction that makes it easier to enforce future compliance with the state’s Health and Safety Code.