Archive for the ‘BART’ Category

BART to pay $1.275 million settlement in environmental prosecution case by DA’s of three counties

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Transit agency failed to implement plans notifying first responders of the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials at its facilities throughout the Bay Area

Martinez, , CA – The Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney, along with District Attorneys from Alameda County and San Mateo County, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson has ordered San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to pay $1.275 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging that the transit agency failed to implement hazardous materials business plans at facilities throughout the three counties as well as violating aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

The judgment agreed to by BART, resolves allegations made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed January 31, 2017 in Alameda County and covers environmental violations dating back to January 2010.  The lawsuit claimed that at over 30 of BART’s 190 facilities throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties, BART unlawfully failed to establish and implement a hazardous materials business plan for emergency response to a release or threatened release of hazardous materials.  These hazardous materials included large quantities of diesel fuel, petroleum, sulfuric acid contained in industrial batteries, and fire extinguishing chemicals.  The lawsuit further alleged that at these and other facilities, BART violated its environmental obligations related to its aboveground storage and underground storage of petroleum, and its hazardous waste.

“The protection of the public and the environment from dangerous hazardous materials through the enforcement of environmental protection laws is and always will be a high priority,” say District Attorney, Mark A. Peterson. “I am committed to ensuring both private and public entities comply with environmental laws enacted to protect our community and environment.”

In January of 2014, during routine compliance inspections, hazardous materials inspectors from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health observed large aboveground storage tanks containing diesel at BART facilities in East Dublin/Pleasanton, West Dublin, and Castro Valley. These tanks, which contained 500 to over 1,700 gallons of diesel, fueled backup generators and were located in close proximity to areas accessed by thousands of BART commuters each day.  Despite the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials, BART had never implemented a hazardous materials business plan for any of these facilities as required by law.  These plans contain critical emergency response information for first responders, such as firefighters, and BART employees, should there be a release or threatened release of hazardous materials into the environment.  These hazardous materials business plans are designed to ensure the protection of the public and the environment in the event of a hazardous materials spill.

The violations were brought to the attention of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division who then conducted a follow up investigation with the District Attorney’s Offices’ Environmental Protection Units of Contra Costa County and San Mateo County.  The Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Program and San Mateo County Environmental Health Division also conducted inspections of all BART facilities in their respective Counties.  The follow up investigations revealed that BART’s failure to implement hazardous materials business plans was more widespread and covered over 30 BART facilities in the three counties.  The investigation also revealed that, at numerous other BART facilities, BART was committing violations of California’s aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.

BART was cooperative throughout the investigation and worked hard to bring their agency into substantial environmental compliance.  During the investigation, BART hired an third party to conduct an audit of its environmental management programs and the audit identified areas of improvement related to hazardous materials, aboveground storage tanks, and hazardous waste. As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.

Under the settlement, BART must pay $675,000 in civil penalties paid out, according to statute, to other government agencies, and $300,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation.  As part of the settlement, BART must also commit $300,000 to an additional environmental compliance position, for a total of two such positions for the next two years.  BART will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.

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Complaint filed against BART claims Warriors’ Draymond Green ad supports Measure RR

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
exhibit-1-bart-news-article-draymond-green

Screenshot of an ad featuring the Warriors’ Draymond Green supporting BART on the agency’s website, provided as evidence to support the complaint.

BART says ad was paid for by the Warriors

By Allen Payton

Another campaign trick was played on Halloween, when Lafayette attorney Jason Bezis filed a complaint against BART for using public funds, on Monday, October 31st. He claims the government agency is using public funds to promote the bond Measure RR on the November ballot.

In an email about his complaint, Bezis wrote, “I just filed a complaint with the FPPC about BART’s video using Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors to promote Measure RR ($3.5 billion BART bond measure).  I argue that BART is illegally using public resources to influence voters to vote yes on Measure RR.”

Bezis’ complaint states, “complaint concerns BART public resources used illegally to plan, produce and publicize a video featuring basketball player Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors to promote Measure RR. On Friday, October 28, 2016, BART released a 31-second video titled ‘Draymond Says’ and an accompanying ‘news article,’ YouTube post, Facebook post, and Twitter post to promote the video. The BART video, BART World Web (sic) [Wide] Web homepage, BART ‘news article,’ BART YouTube post, BART Facebook post and BART Twitter post all contain the message ‘BART needs to stay safe and reliable.’

These communications paid for with public moneys by BART, a local governmental agency, unambiguously urge a particular result in the November 2016 election: they urge ‘yes’ votes for Measure RR, referred to on the ballot as ‘BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief.’ These BART communications constitute ‘contributions’ or ‘independent expenditures’ benefiting the Yes on RR campaign (FPPC ID#1381218), officially named the ‘Committee to Keep BART Safe and Reliable,’ which uses the phrase ‘Keep BART Safe and Reliable’ in its campaign logo.”

Bezis then offers what he wants BART to basically admit they’re using public money to campaign for the ballot measure and to file the necessary finance reports for the expenditures.

His complaint concludes with the following:

“As BART has engaged in campaign activity, pursuant to Regulation 18420.1(f), the FPPC should require BART to file the necessary campaign finance reports for the direct and indirect costs of its campaign activities relating to promotion of Measure RR on the November 2016 ballot in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties. BART needs to publicly disclose the value of public resources that it expended for campaign activities supporting passage of Measure RR as either a contribution to Yes on RR campaign or as an independent expenditure supporting Measure RR. For the “Draymond Says” video, BART needs to report as campaign activity the costs of planning the video, production of the video, and promotion of the video via YouTube, Twitter, its internet homepage, its BART “news article,” and by other means of publicity. If Draymond Green is a “paid spokesperson” for BART, then a Form 511 report must be filed.”

Bezis also provided evidence to support his complaint, which can be seen, below.

When reached for comment BART Board Member Joel Keller responded “The complainant believes the District used public funds to promote a ballot measure and has filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). There is a fine line between education and advocacy and it is appropriate to wait for the FPPC’s response before discussing the merits of the complaint.  However, as a supporter of the Dub Nation and admirer of the heart and intensity of Draymond Green’s play, it’s too bad that the motivation for the video about the Warriors and BART has become controversial because it is a slam dunk.”

Kerry Hamill, BART’s Assistant General Manager for External Affairs said

“We have had an ongoing relationship with the Golden State Warriors for years at BART.

We provide extra service to their games.

They promote BART in a variety of ways, like this video, which they showed at one of their last pre-season games.

We did not pay for it. The District absolutely did not pay for it. It’s the Warriors’ video and they used it for their pre-season game to show during the game.

They let us use it for BARTable, which is a website and a newsletter that promotes off-peak ridership to various games, activities, shows and festivals.

Bezis “has a pattern of filing complaints,” she said. “He did this several times against the Measure BB campaign in 2014. Everything was dismissed by the FPPC in that case.”

“I really want the Warriors to be applauded for encouraging people to take BART to the game and get cars off the road,” Hamill. “It’s a lot safer and smarter to take public transit to a game, when you’re going to drink and party.

“The Warriors and BART shouldn’t be attacked for promoting taking transit. People should take BART to the game.”

The FPPC has 14 days to decide if they intend to investigate the complaint, refer the complaint to another agency, take no action either because the Commission doesn’t have the authority or the allegations do not warrant any further action.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.

 

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