The South Coast Air Quality Management District has hit BP with a second massive lawsuit over alleged violations of air quality regulations at its Carson refinery.

The region's smog-fighting agency filed a $183 million lawsuit late Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles County Superior Court against BP West Coast Products, the subsidiary that operates the refinery.

The lawsuit follows a $414 million lawsuit filed against the British petroleum company in 2003 over the same refinery, an action that is currently in discovery phase.

AQMD officials said the latest lawsuit is an outgrowth of the previous one, as continued investigation of the refinery found unprecedented violations of air quality regulations, including some the district alleges were "knowingly and willfully committed."

"BP is definitely in a class by itself," said AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood. "We have continued to find a lot of problems at this refinery."

Officials from BP could not be reached Thursday evening.

The lawsuit includes allegations that BP failed to account for and properly inspect 140,000 refinery components, resulting in excess smog emissions; that it failed to properly maintain more than three dozen petroleum storage tanks; and that it failed to maintain its industrial wastewater system.
AQMD attorneys expect that the two lawsuits may ultimately be combined, Atwood said.

"We hope this lawsuit will send a strong message to the company and other polluters in the Southland that endangering public health from illegal air pollution violations will not be tolerated," said AQMD executive director Barry Wallerstein in a prepared statement.

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