OAKLAND (KCBS) – Walgreens has agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle an Alameda County lawsuit that accused the drug store chain of improperly disposing of hazardous materials and confidential medical records.

Surreptitious trash inspections at dozens of Walgreens facilities around the state turned up hazardous materials such as batteries, aerosols, cleaning products, pesticides, and compact fluorescent light bulbs that should not be sent to ordinary landfills.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

“We did a series of dumpster dives because ultimately the proof is in the pudding,” said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Ken Mifsud.

Investigators found violations in 34 or 37 sites they visited, including patient information related to pharmacy customers that should have been shredded, he said.

Because of the suit brought by 43 counties and two cities, all 600 Walgreens stores in California must follow strict guidelines for trash disposal as part of the settlement.

Mifsud said the store has created an internal database that records how to dispose of the products it carries, accessed by a barcode scan.

In the last two years, Alameda County has also reached settlements with CVS and Target over environmental violations.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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