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Unocal Plea Bargains Chemical Spill Suit; Will Pay $1.5 Million

March 16, 1994

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) _ Unocal Corp. has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle charges the company ignored reports that it had leaking oil pipes at a California drilling site.

The company pleaded no contest on Tuesday to three misdemeanor charges, agreeing to clean up the Guadalupe Oil Field and educate its employees on environmental laws, said Gerry Shea, chief deputy district attorney for San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

In return, prosecutors dropped charges against six Unocal employees named in the original 36-count criminal complaint, Shea said.

Of the $1.5 million, Unocal will pay $200,000 to the state to cover the costs of the investigation; $300,000 to a trust fund for environmental programs in San Luis Obispo County; and $1 million to the county’s general fund.

Charges were brought against the company last July after state Fish and Game investigators, working on an informant’s tip, seized dozens of boxes of records from Unocal.

Prosecutors said documents showed that company officials first learned of the spill in 1990 but took no action to correct the problem.

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