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Target Corp. illegally disposed of hazardous goods, court order claims

September 27, 2010 |  8:17 am

>A preliminary injunction against Target Corp. alleges that the retail chain illegally disposed of hazardous consumer products that were returned or damaged, Los Angeles and state prosecutors said Monday.

The order issued Friday by Alameda County Judge Steven A. Brick prohibits Target from engaging in practices that violate California environmental laws, said officials with the L.A. city attorney's office. Prosecutors also are seeking civil penalties against the Minneapolis-based company.

Specifically, the company was ordered not to dispose of hazardous waste at an unauthorized or unpermitted place nor transport hazardous waste to an unpermitted facility, among other rules.

There are about 200 Target stores and seven distribution centers in California, including about 50 in the city and county of Los Angeles, prosecutors said.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said the stores carry hundreds of items that pose environmental hazards, including bleach, paint, pesticides, aerosols, oven cleaners and automotive products. State environmental law strictly governs their disposal.

Investigators with the state attorney general's office and the Los Angeles city attorney's office say the company did not abide by those rules.

The investigators said they found in January 2008 that 5,000 pounds of products that could not be sold were sent by L.A.-area stores to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. According to investigators, the shipments included "damaged, leaking, unusable items with flammable, toxic and corrosive properties."

Last March, the attorney general, the Los Angeles city attorney and district attorneys from across the state launched an investigation that uncovered what officials described as ongoing violations of the state's hazardous-waste laws.

-- Andrew Blankstein