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The State

April 06, 1987

In a ruling hailed by environmentalists, a federal appeals court said that California's water laws do not excuse excessive pollution because of limited technology or human errors, and found Unocal guilty of 74 violations. The discharges from Unocal's refinery into San Pablo Bay are grounds for "several million dollars" in civil penalties, said Stephan Volker of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. The Sierra Club's suit against the refinery near Rodeo in Contra Costa County covered a period between June, 1979, and December, 1983. The violations cited by the suit, some of them covering monthlong periods, were largely based on the company's own reports of pollution levels in its wastewater discharges.

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