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March 3, 2011
Target Corporation to Pay $22.5 Million Settlement for Environmental Violations: Stores Illegally Dumped Pesticides and Hazardous Chemicals
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, together with 19 other California District Attorneys, the California Attorney General and the City Attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles, announced today that a judge in Alameda County Superior court has ordered the Minnesota-based Target Corporation to pay $22.5 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.
The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed in Alameda County in June 2009 claiming that more than 240 Target stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a seven-year period, including pesticides, oven cleaners, pool chemicals, drain openers, paint, aerosols, electronics, pharmaceuticals, batteries and other flammable, toxic and corrosive wastes. All nine Target stores in Alameda County allegedly participated in the illegal conduct.
Under the settlement, which includes a final judgment and permanent injunction against Target, the corporation must pay $22.5 million in civil penalties, costs and for supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in the state.
As a result of the prosecution, California Target stores have also adopted new policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of waste hazardous products into store trash compactors and drains. Stores are now required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers so as to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes (like ammonia and chlorine) do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Based on the volumes of waste hazardous products currently being reported by Target’s Alameda County stores, the amount of previously unaccounted-for hazardous waste is believed to have been one to two tons of hazardous waste per store, per year.
DA O’Malley states, “California law requires companies to properly store, handle, and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials to avoid harm to people and the environment. Target routinely ignored those laws to cut costs and gain competitive advantages. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will remain ever-vigilant in our effort to ensure that environmental laws are enforced in our ongoing efforts to keep our ground water, soil and air free of toxic pollutants.”