Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton announced a $1.525 million civil settlement with Texas-based 7-Eleven, Inc., to resolve allegations the company violated state laws requiring training of store personnel in hazardous-materials handling.

Becton joined the district attorneys of Alameda, Monterey, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Solano, Ventura and Yolo counties in prosecuting this case.

7-Eleven is an operator or franchisor of over 1,700 convenience stores in California. The stores use carbon dioxide for their carbonated fountain beverage systems. Carbon dioxide, typically stored in tanks onsite, is widely used by fast food and convenience stores and is safe if handled properly. If not, carbon dioxide can leak unnoticed, displacing oxygen from the air, resulting in serious health effects or even death. California businesses that use carbon dioxide are required by law to train employees on safe handling practices and how to detect leaks from tanks and supply lines, and must file certified, complete, and accurate reports with local authorities at least annually confirming such training.

An investigation by the prosecutors’ offices indicated, in contrast to reports filed by 7-Eleven on behalf of California stores, employees were not receiving required training in the safe handling of carbon dioxide. The settlement resolves allegations that 7-Eleven submitted certified reports for California stores that did not accurately and completely disclose employee-training information as required by state laws designed to ensure the safety of first-responders, employees, and customers.

The settlement was reached after verification of revisions to 7-Eleven’s business practices designed to ensure that all employees receive proper training.

“7-Eleven Inc. was cooperative throughout our investigation and worked diligently toward correcting their deficiencies as we reached this resolution,” Becton said. “7-Eleven Inc. must also abide by a permanent injunction to ensure future statutory compliance.”

The case was resolved by way of a stipulated final judgment entered in Contra Costa County Superior Court and requires monetary payment of $1.525 million from 7-Eleven: $948,000 in civil penalties, $252,000 for supplemental environmental projects promoting training for California environmental agencies and prosecutors and $325,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. A total of $117,504 will be paid to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office specifically in civil penalties.

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