Ross Stores, Inc. to Pay $3.335 Million Settlement for Environmental Violations

Oakland, CA - Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, along with 38 other California District Attorneys and two City Attorneys, announced that Monterey County Superior Court has ordered Delaware-based retailer Ross Stores, Inc. (Ross) to pay $3.335 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution.

“It is vital that any company doing business in California abide by our environmental protection laws. My office remains dedicated to prosecuting violations of these laws in our ongoing effort to safeguard our natural resources from irreparable harm due to improper disposal of hazardous waste,” states DA O’Malley.

The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement action filed on November 20, 2020 in Monterey County and led by the District Attorneys of Alameda, Monterey, San Joaquin, Yolo and Riverside counties, claiming that more than 441 Ross and dd’s Discount Stores throughout the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a seven year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included electronic waste, cosmetics, batteries, mercury lamps, personal care products, aerosol spray cans and other toxic and ignitable materials.

From 2014 to 2017, inspectors from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division, and investigators from the Monterey and San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Offices conducted a series of waste inspections belonging to Ross stores. The inspections revealed that Ross was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes.

Ross was cooperative throughout the investigation and, as a result of the investigation, has now adopted and implemented policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste products in California. Stores are required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by California Ross stores through damage, spills and returns is now being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities, and properly documented and accounted for.

The current stipulated judgment requires Ross to pay a total of $3,335,000, which consists of $2,550,000 in civil penalties, $340,000 in supplemental environmental projects, and $445,000 in reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. Ross gets a credit of $600,000 against the penalties if it undertakes at least $1,200,000 in environmental enhancement work not required by law. In addition, the settlement includes provisions requiring Ross to employ a California-based compliance employee to oversee its hazardous waste compliance program and to undergo waste audits in at least five percent of their California facilities to ensure hazardous wastes is properly disposed of at all stores. The company must also comply with injunctive requirements regarding hazardous waste management.

There are 19 Ross stores in Alameda County that are subject to the settlement.

Posted on Dec 1, 2020