California Files Lawsuit Against Walmart For Illegal Hazardous Waste Dumping

(Credit: Walmart)

Yesterday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a statewide lawsuit with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and twelve district attorneys against Walmart for the illegal disposal of hazardous waste.

The suit accuses Walmart of inappropriately trashing various kinds of waste at local landfills that are not equipped or authorized to receive them. Cited examples include:

  • Alkaline and lithium batteries.
  • Insect killer sprays and other pesticides.
  • Aerosol cans.
  • Toxic cleaning supplies.
  • Electronic waste.
  • Latex paints.
  • LED lightbulbs.

Walmart is also allegedly guilty of throwing away confidential customer information at these sites.

Walmart’s own inspections suggest the company unlawfully disposes of nearly 160,000 pounds — or more than one million items — of hazardous waste in California each year.

Bonta raised the concern that once dumped, “these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases.” 

Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni added, “Violations of California’s hazardous waste laws endanger workers and the integrity of our landfills and groundwater.”

This is not the first time Walmart has violated California’s environmental laws. In 2010, the company agreed to a $25 million settlement for illegally disposing of hazardous waste throughout California. Although ceasing its dumping activities was part of the settlement, inspections beginning in 2015 found that Walmart’s operations continued to violate state laws. In the 58 inspections conducted between then and now of trash compactors taken from Walmart stores, every one turned up dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personal information.

California Department of Toxic Substances Control director Dr. Meredith Williams stated,

“Despite repeated enforcements against Walmart over the past two decades, it consistently — and knowingly — fails to comply with California’s environmental protection laws.”

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley similarly called Walmart a “repeat offender,” which she said underscores “the importance of dedicating prosecutorial resources to the protection of our environment.”

Bonta alleged that “instead of trying to come into compliance with the law, Walmart claims that its corporate sustainability achievements,” such as its commitments to cut virgin plastic use and underwrite a $2 billion green bond, along with “its past criminal and civil penalty payments fulfill its compliance responsibilities.” He stated that the lawsuit is “a warning to the state’s worst offenders” that the California government “will hold you accountable.”

The full list of petitioners is Attorney General Bonta, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the district attorneys of Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Tulare, and Yolo counties.

The group cited the Hazardous Waste Control Law, the Medical Waste Management Act, the Customer Personal Information Law, and the Unfair Competition Law as the specific laws Walmart has violated.

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–> This post appeared first on Environment + Energy Leader.

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