OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Retail store giant Target Corp. has agreed to pay $7.4 million to settle allegations that it violated a 2011 stipulated judgment regarding the company’s handling and disposal of retail hazardous waste, prosecutors said.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said the current settlement in Alameda County Superior Court follows investigations of Target’s conduct between 2012 and 2016, during which time she said the Minnesota-based company committed violations by improperly disposing hazardous waste into landfills.
O’Malley said the waste included items such as electronics, batteries, aerosol cans, compact fluorescent light bulbs and medical waste including syringes, over-the-counter and prescribed pharmaceuticals and confidential medical information from its customers.
O’Malley was part of a coalition of 24 local governments and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra that filed suit against Target, which is the eighth-largest department store retailer in the U.S.
“This case underscores the importance of constant vigilance by agencies dedicated to protecting the environment,” O’Malley said in a statement.
“The Environmental Protection division of the District Attorney’s Office endeavors to ensure that every company conducting business in the county and the state disposes of hazardous waste in a manner that is legal and environmentally sustainable,” she said.
She said the settlement “alerts any business in this county that does not comply with environmental protection laws that it will be investigated, and, when appropriate, brought to justice.”
Becerra said, “Target’s ongoing and improper disposal of hazardous waste and contaminants harmed the public and the environment.”
He said, “We are confident that with these strong injunctive terms and penalties Target will implement meaningful changes to prevent this from ever happening again.”
Target said in a statement that it has “made significant progress in the way we handle hazardous waste” since the original 2011 judgment.
“We have enhanced team member training, store operations and auditing processes and we continue work to improve our operations to best manage disposing of items like batteries, hairspray and laundry detergent that require additional, special care under California laws,” the company said.
“Target also will remind team members on best practices for handling environmentally sensitive items, commit to regular third-party audits and upgrade to clear trash bags in our stores for easier visual inspections,” the company said.
The settlement calls for Target to pay $3.2 million in civil penalties and spend at least $3 million to conduct three annual inspections and audits to ensure its facilities are in compliance with rules regulating the dumping of hazardous materials.
The company must also pay $900,000 in attorney’s fees and costs associated with investigation and enforcement activities.
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