School bus firm fined $130,000
The firm that provides school bus service to Nevada County students has been fined $130,000 for environmental violations involving diesel tanks that were close to the South Fork of Wolf Creek in Grass Valley.
The two underground diesel tanks at Durham School Services on Bennett Street just outside the city limits were in “a pretty sensitive area,” according to Wesley Nicks, director of the county’s Environmental Health Department.
He said the tanks were sitting in a gravel bed near the creek when discovered with the violations last March by one of his inspectors.
“(One of the workers at environmental health) red-tagged the system,” Nicks said.
The tanks have since been relocated above ground. A spokesperson with Durham said on Tuesday the Grass Valley office manager was unavailable for comment.
Fran Kammerer, who prosecuted the case for Nevada County, said no fuel leaked onto the Durham site on Bennett Street, which bottoms out into the creek. Kammerer is with the California District Attorneys Association and handles environmental cases in the north state when counties need the expertise.
Kammerer said fuel tanks have sensors in the air pocket area around them to detect leaks. When the county inspector looked at them he found that someone, “had just raised the sensors and inactivated them,” Kammerer said.
“That’s a big, big violation in our state,” Kammerer said, “but they know they were in the wrong and they have been very compliant.”
“I don’t think the company was fully aware,” that someone had raised the sensors, Kammerer said, and she wasn’t sure who had tampered with them.
“They got into compliance quickly, and other companies should know that they have to be compliant,” Kammerer said.
Durham agreed to pay the county $130,000 for the violations, with $50,000 stayed for three years if the firm does not violate environmental law again. The Nevada County Environmental Health Department will get $65,000 of the penalties, with the state getting $15,000 for environmental hazard training.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4237.
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