It’s not uncommon for businesses to pay for soil remediation to remove dangerous chemicals from their property before they build anything on the site.
But the owner of G & C Auto Body on Lakeville Highway says he’s victim of government bureaucracy that’s forcing him to spend thousands on groundwater testing after having received the green light from the city to build eight years ago.
“We got all the permits and removed the tank that had diesel in it,” said Gene Crozat, who owns seven other repair shops in the North Bay. “Back when we first were opening (on Lakeville), we dug down 17 feet, were told by the city that everything was fine and that we could build.”
But two years after opening, Crozat received a letter from state officials saying more monitoring was required, including groundwater testing, which would spot any evidence of petroleum hydrocarbons, a byproduct of gasoline.
“Government is so unreasonable and that's is why businesses are leaving California,” said Crozat. “They don’t think about how it will impact the businesses. They do it just because they can. Because they don’t close down and they don’t go out of business."
The county and the state both say Crozat ignored their orders to test the groundwater under his shop for years and have slapped him with $55,000 in fines in the process.
“The People of Sonoma County are entitled to know that their water is clean,” District Attorney Ravitch said in a prepared statement. “That means that individuals and businesses must take care to investigate and clean up underground storage tank sites quickly and completely."
Since Crozat has agreed to conduct groundwater testing, the state has suspended most of the fines. Still, the work will cost him $20,000, putting a dent in his bottom line. However, he doesn’t anticipate having to close the shop to do the work, which he hopes to complete over the next couple of months.