2011-03-16 "Target Corporation Must Pay $22.5 Million in Settlement for Environmental Violations" from Placer County District Attorney
Placer County – Placer County District Attorney Scott Owens announced today (March 3rd) that a judge in Northern California has ordered the Minnesota-based Target Corporation to pay $22.5 million as part of a settlement for the dumping of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals by Target stores into drains or trash compactors.
In addition to Placer County, 20 other California district attorney’s offices, the state Attorney General and the City Attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles were involved in the statewide prosecution of Target in a civil environmental action.
Besides the prosecuting agencies, numerous investigative or enforcement agencies such as fire departments and environmental health departments throughout California will receive monetary amounts from Target in the settlement.
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed in Alameda County two years ago claiming that more than 290 Target stores and distribution centers throughout California handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials improperly over a seven-year period.
The hazardous wastes and material included pesticides, paint, aerosols, oven cleaners, pool chemicals, drain openers and other flammable, toxic and corrosive materials.
All Target stores in Placer County were involved in the hazardous waste violations, and three agencies within Placer will receive a combined $40,000 in the settlement.
The breakdown includes $25,000 to the Placer County District Attorney’s Office, $7,500 to the Roseville Fire Department and $7,500 to the Placer County Certified Unified Program Agency, which is the county’s environmental health agency.
Owens said today’s settlement “should serve as a warning that businesses will not be allowed to disregard important environmental rules and regulations at the expense of community members, no matter the size of the business.”
Owens thanked fellow prosecutors across the state.
“This case represents a tremendous effort by prosecutors and investigators statewide to stop illegal dumping of hazardous waste,” he said. Included in the settlement is a permanent injunction that will require Target to be accountable for complying with the letter and spirit of environmental laws.
Target Corporation must pay $22.5 million in civil penalties and costs, as well as for the funding of several supplemental environmental projects.
As a result of the prosecution, many California Target stores have already adopted new policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste into store trash compactors and down drains.
Stores are now required to maintain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers so as to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes, such as ammonia and chlorine, do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions.
California law requires companies to properly store, handle and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials to avoid harm to persons and the environment.
In the case involving the Target Corporation, prosecutors contended that Target routinely ignored those laws in an effort to cut costs.
They said Target failed to develop and implement an effective program to ensure that employees properly identified defective, damaged and leaking products containing hazardous and toxic chemicals as hazardous waste.
The prosecutors said Target also failed to dispose of the hazardous material properly, instead throwing such materials and products into drains or company trash compactors.