Walmart will pay a total of $110m in fines after pleading guilty to a number of counts of federal environmental crimes in its handling of hazardous wastes and pesticides.The US retailer pled guilty in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the US.
The company also pled guilty in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) due to failings to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at stores across the country.
Walmart will pay $81m in fines for its conduct, along with a further $29m for previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, bringing the total fine to more than $110m.
According to documents filed in the US District Court of San Francisco up until 2006, Walmart lacked a programme and failed to train employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were discarded into municipal trash bins, poured into the local sewer system, or improperly transported to product return centers throughout the US.
Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said, ‘By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides, and other materials in violation of federal laws, Walmart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies.
‘Today, Walmart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.’
CTVNews reported that Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company has now fixed the problem and is ‘obviously happy that this is the final resolution’.
Buchanan said that employees are now better trained on cleaning up, transporting, and disposing of dangerous products.
The fines against Walmart will be put towards funding environmental projects, with $20m going towards community service projects in the areas impacted by the violations, including the opening of a $6m Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help US retail stores learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.
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Walmart Pleads Guilty to Hazardous Waste Dumping, Fined