The owner of 14 Jiffy Lube sites in Santa Clara County, including two in Palo Alto, reached a settlement with the county District Attorney's Office Feb. 17 and was fined more than $130,000 after admitting to a slew of environmental-regulation violations, the DA's office announced Tuesday.
The franchise owner, M. C. LLC, admitted it failed to properly mark, contain and transport hazardous waste.
Two Jiffy Lube locations in Palo Alto, at 4195 El Camino Real and 4201 Middlefield Road, and one in Mountain View, at 1141 El Camino Real, were among the sites found to be negligent.
The county prosecuted M. C. LLC because Jiffy Lube has repeatedly been sued by the state and is considered a repeat offender, officials stated. The owners, who bought the franchise in 2005, originally claimed they weren't aware of violations.
"That's not an excuse: You should have known, and you should have been diligent," Deputy District Attorney Nahal Iravani-Sani said.
The violations were discovered between 2008 and 2010 during routine inspections by the Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health's enforcement arm, the Hazardous Materials Compliance Division.
The agreement also requires M. C. LLC to implement a training program for staff, implement an internal program to ensure environmental compliance, and submit all stores to inspection. M.C. LLC must also rehire an environmental-compliance auditor who was previously laid off.
"Penny wise, pound foolish. They thought they were saving money, and it came back to bite them," Iravani-Sani said.
M. C. LLC was cooperative with the investigation and admitted to the violations, according to Irvani-Sani. Jiffy Lube will be required to show compliance with the terms of the settlement nine to 12 months after the investigations.
"We don't want to be babysitting them. ... We want to be proactive and pre-empt possible dangers of hazardous-materials violations," she said.