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Orange County Focus

NEWPORT BEACH : Car Dealer Will Pay $22,000 for Pollution

January 23, 1991

Steven Bren, owner of a luxury auto dealership on Coast Highway, has agreed to pay civil penalties of $22,000 to settle charges that Newport Auto Center violated a major pollution law, the district attorney's office said Tuesday.

Prosecutors alleged in their lawsuit that Steven Bren, son of Irvine Co. Chairman Donald L. Bren, had failed to comply with a 1983 California law that requires underground fuel tanks to be inspected, monitored for leaks and permitted by county officials.

Underground tanks are considered a major threat to Orange County's ground water supply. Leaks have been found in one-quarter to one-third of the tanks in the county since the law was enacted.

The Newport Auto Center, which specializes in the sale of Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Porsches and Audis, has six tanks that dispense gasoline to vehicles. Since the lawsuit was filed, the company has removed them and begun replacing them with new, double-walled tanks to protect soil and ground water, said Jan Nolan, the prosecutor in the case.

County health officials have been trying to persuade Bren to comply since 1987, Nolan said. Bren and Newport Auto Center did not admit liability when they agreed to the settlement, she said.

Representatives of the auto dealership said Tuesday that they had no comment on the settlement.

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