Target pays $22.5 million for dumping hazardous waste
February 4, 2011
As the new Target department store continues to spring up on Los Osos Valley Road, comes word that the parent company has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle various claims throughout California alleging the retail giant dumped hazardous waste. [LA Times]
Under the tentative agreement, still subject to final approval by a judge, Target admits no wrongdoing but will pay about $3.4 million to the California attorney general’s office. Smaller sums will go to city attorneys in Los Angeles and San Diego as well as district attorney’s offices in 20 California counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange.
Target has also agreed to implement a statewide program to enforce compliance with waste disposal laws, train employees in legal ways to handle hazardous sludge and pay an independent auditor to check compliance for three years.
The statewide investigation began in 2005 after Target, which operates more than 60 stores in Los Angeles County and 236 locations in the state, was hit with repeated violations of California’s hazardous waste disposal laws.
Violations included improper storage, transportation and disposal of bleach, paint, pesticides, batteries, lightbulbs and other hazardous materials. Prosecutors accused the retail giant of cutting corners for the bottom line. Chemicals returned by customers or found to be defective were poured down the drain, tossed into dumpsters and trucked to landfills not equipped for hazardous waste.
Stores also kept incompatible and combustible liquids like ammonia and bleach side-by-side on shelves and poured them into dumpsters mixed together, creating fire and other safety hazards, prosecutors said.
The case against Target was originally filed by then-attorney general Jerry Brown.