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    ARCO Settlement Approved in California

    Parent company BP to pay $4 million for not using leak-detection equipment on underground tanks.

    SAN DIEGO -- A California judge Monday approved a $4-million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that the operator of 114 ARCO stations in San Diego County failed to maintain leak detection equipment on underground fuel tanks.

    The district attorney, the city attorney and county counsel sued BP plc's West Coast Products in May 2002 after six months of talks with ARCO attorneys, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

    The settlement requires BP to pay $3 million to the District Attorney's Office, and the city and county governments. ARCO also would have to install tamper-proof leak-detection sensors at all its San Diego County stations at a cost of about $500,000.

    Inspectors from the county Department of Health found more than 1,300 violations at ARCO stations since 1999, officials said.

    "We want the least expensive gas that we can have in San Diego County, but we will not sacrifice the environment for that gasoline," City Attorney Casey Gwinn said. "We want the best-quality gas that we can have in San Diego County, but we will not sacrifice the environment for that quality gasoline."

    Another $500,000 would go toward projects such as trails and habitat restoration in the Tijuana River Valley, computer imaging of county environmental records and training hazardous materials investigators.

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