California sues Walmart over hazardous waste disposal – CBS Sacramento


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SACRAMENTO (AP) – Retail giant Walmart illegally dumps over a million batteries, spray cans of insecticides and other products, toxic cleaning products, electronic waste, latex paints and other hazardous waste in California landfills each year, state prosecutors said Monday in a lawsuit the company called “unwarranted.”

“As we shop in the brightly colored aisles, there are products that will never make it into the cart – returned, damaged or taken off the shelves for a variety of reasons,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said.

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“When a big box store gets rid of unwanted products, just like the rest of us, they have to do it right. Unfortunately, Walmart – the world’s largest company by revenue – has failed to do it on a large scale here in California, ”Bonta said.

The attorney general’s office settled a previous similar lawsuit in 2010 in which Walmart, which operates more than 300 stores in California, paid $ 25 million and agreed to stop the spill at local landfills that aren’t equipped to contain dangerous products.

He paid Missouri $ 1.25 million in 2012 to settle a similar lawsuit.

And in 2013, the company pleaded guilty to six federal offenses for negligently dumping a pollutant into the sewers of 16 California counties, in a $ 81 million deal that also included charges in Missouri.

Company spokesman Randy Hargrove said Walmart would fight the “wrongful lawsuit” filed on Monday.

“The state requires a level of compliance regarding the disposal of waste from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law,” said Hargrove. He said a judge was set to approve Walmart’s compliance with the 2010 regulations in 2018 until the attorney general’s office opens a new investigation with “new rules” in a bid to force a new rule.

More than 3,800 audits overseen by the Attorney General’s office since 2010 have found that Walmart’s trash compactors “contain at most 0.4% items of potential concern”, compared to an average of 3% at scale state, said Hargrove, “Our compactors are much cleaner than the state average.

Bonta said Walmart’s own inspections show it illegally disposes of nearly 80 tonnes of this waste each year, which its office has estimated to be more than a million individual items.

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“Pesticides, electronics and hazardous household waste must be disposed of properly, otherwise they can be released into our air, water and soil, leading to a number of negative health consequences including cancer, neurological disorders. , asthma or learning disabilities, ”Calif. Director of the Department of Toxic Substance Control, Meredith Williams, said at a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

The state performed 58 inspections in 13 counties of trash compactors taken from Walmart stores from 2015 to this year. In each case, they found dozens of products considered hazardous waste, medical waste, or customer records with personal information, Bonta said.

The Attorney General’s office was joined in the lawsuit by Williams’ agency and prosecutors from Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Tulare and Yolo counties. in filing the complaint.

Unlike Walmart, Bonta said other large retailers have disposal practices that comply with state laws “to varying degrees, some with high compliance.”

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “You can’t send this hazardous waste into the general sanitation stream. It’s dangerous, it’s unhealthy.

Williams added that “other companies are succeeding in complying with these laws”, while Walmart has even more means and incentives based on its past violations.

“So it’s really amazing that they continue to break these laws on hazardous waste control,” she said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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