Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
OCDA AND 19 PROSECUTORIAL AGENCIES SETTLE $27.6 MILLION LAWSUIT FOR DISPOSAL
AND TRANSPORTATION OF HAZARDOUS
WASTE COUNTY AND STATEWIDE
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), in partnership with 19 other prosecutorial agencies, participated in a settlement today against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Walmart) for the illegal transportation and disposal of hazardous, toxic waste and materials. Walmart has agreed to pay $20 million in penalties, which will be distributed between the 20 prosecuting agencies and 32 environmental health agencies involved in the investigation. Walmart also agreed to pay $1.6 million to cover the cost of the investigation, $3 million for Supplemental Environmental Projects for future prosecution, investigation, and regulation of cases, and at least $3 million in compliance-keeping measures for its California-based stores.
The settlement was signed today in the Superior Court of California in San Diego on behalf of 19 District Attorney’s Offices for the State and the California Attorney General’s Office. This settlement is one of the largest environmental protection cases in California’s history.
The case against Walmart, who has not admitted fault or liability, states that Walmart improperly handled and dumped hazardous waste including pesticides, chemicals, paints, aerosols, acid, fertilizer, and motor oil from its 236 California-based stores, including Walmart and Sam’s Club locations. This hazardous waste was generated at each of the Walmart locations and dumped or transported to a central location without proper management or disposal of the waste as required by law. This practice amounted to violations by Walmart of environmental laws and regulations throughout California, including Orange County.
Specific to Orange County, Walmart was found to have dumped expired toxic fertilizer in a large planter behind a Walmart location in Foothill Ranch. This planter measured 10 feet by 200 feet and backed up to the 241 Toll Road. This fertilizer was determined to be hazardous and had entered a storm drain due to rain and the illegal disposal. The fertilizer was tested and deemed to be toxic hazardous waste, making it potentially dangerous to people, animals, and the environment.
The terms of the settlement include a requirement that Walmart shall not dispose of any hazardous waste at any unauthorized location or in violation of Health and Safety Codes. Each individual store must asses all potentially hazardous items and handle hazardous waste by appropriately disposing of it as required by law. Walmart will also train its employees to recognize and properly identify and handle hazardous materials.
Deputy District Attorney William Fallon of the Environmental Protection Unit handled this case on behalf of the OCDA.