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Target Corp. to pay $22.5 million in settlement over alleged hazardous waste dumping

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Target Corp. has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a multiyear government investigation into the alleged dumping of hazardous waste by the retail chain, according to court documents filed this week.

The settlement, pending final approval by a judge, is part of a bigger push by prosecutors from throughout the state to crack down on environmental violations by big box retailers and follows multimillion-dollar settlements in recent years with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot.

Under the tentative agreement, the Minneapolis-based retail giant admits to 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 counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange.

Additionally, Target has agreed to implement a statewide program to enforce proper compliance of waste disposal laws, train employees in legal ways to handle hazardous sludge and pay an independent auditor to check compliance for three years.

The investigation began in 2005 after Target, which operates more than 60 stores in Los Angeles County and 236 locations in the state, was accused of repeated violations of California’s hazardous waste disposal laws.

Alleged violations included improper storage, transportation and disposal of bleach, paint, pesticides, batteries, light bulbs 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.

Target also allegedly fobbed off even more waste in bulk donations to local charities, including the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which received over 5,000 pounds of unusable, flammable and toxic products in 2008, prosecutors said.

Then-California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, along with the district and city attorneys, sued the retailer in 2009 in Alameda County Superior Court, and an injunction was issued in September to halt the illegal disposal of hazardous waste at all Target locations in California.

Target declined to comment.

In a statement issued after the lawsuit was first filed, Target stressed its commitment to protecting workers and customers and stated it was “very disappointed” by the lawsuit.

“We have been participating in a cooperative and constructive dialogue on this topic with the attorney general and a number of district attorneys for almost three years,” the company said.

Prosecutors said investigations are still underway into environmental violations by other big box retailers and such practices, designed to cut corporate costs at the expense of public welfare, are systemic among retail giants.

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-- Shan Li

Photo credit: Christina House / For The Times

 
Comments () | Archives (11)

Note the first fact noted:... admits to 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 counties, including Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange.
Then, like they almost forgot the reason for the trial in the first place....
Additionally, Target has agreed to implement a statewide program to enforce proper compliance of waste disposal laws, blah blah lawyers win first, the rest can go blow.

What good does do to me? Seems like a big pay day for some law firms though!

$22.5 million or $2.5 million?

also this story doesn't mention what court the papers were filed in ... ?

Looks too much like a GIANT 'White Wash!' 22.5 million$ is NOTHING, compared to the damage DONE by TAR- jay. WHAT, are their campaign contributions going to be....hmmmmm?

I hardly ever shop there and now I have reason to never shop there again.

Whoa! I care where my money goes. Target's cheap and convenient, but now it appears they're also evil. One less box store I've got to worry about...

This is really disappointing. I love Target and I thought the company practiced better judgment.

Good. Target is anti-Gay. I wish something would put them out of business.

@j- People looking out for the air you breathe, the water you drink and the soil your food grows out of, does you a WHOLE lot of good.

Target is a HORRIBLE place. Yes, they carry a lot of stuff, often at a discount. But their corporate philosophy doesn't just include unconscionable stuff like this, but any number of their corporate philosophies show they care about ONE thing: money. They could care less about the customer or the community they do business in.

What a bunch of ignorant statements. This article explains nothing about what they specifically did that warranted a 22.5 million dollar lawsuit. I read an article over two years ago, shortly after this was started that Target just wasn't aware of how they were supposed to handle chemicals. Then the lawsuit alleged poor training on the Corporations part, and that they had processes in place that weren't being followed by employees. Shortly after that, they were allegedly in violation of specific counties laws on how to handle chemicals. This article makes it seem like 'Target' was out back in an alley, laughing like a maniac, while pouring ammonia and bleach into the sewer. Please issue a follow up article or some details like a link to the settlement and the allegations so I can make a fair assessment, rather than blind ignorant statements like I just read above.


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