Dec 22, 2021
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California sues Walmart over hazardous waste disposal

Dec 22, 2021

California officials on Monday sued Walmart Inc, accusing the retail giant of illegally dumping pesticides, lithium batteries and other hazardous materials in landfills across the state that are not equipped for such waste.


California Attorney General Rob Bonta and others alleged in a lawsuit filed in Alameda County state court that Walmart unlawfully disposes of more than a million items a year containing substances dangerous to the environment, in violation of state laws.

Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesperson, said the company had met with the state "numerous times" to explain its hazardous waste compliance programs and avoid litigation.

"The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law," he said.
Bonta said in a press release that the products "may seep into the state's drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases."

The complaint cites Walmart's own audits to support claims that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has been sending close to 80 tons of hazardous waste to California municipal landfills annually since 2015.

California investigators also made about 60 visits to inspect trash compactors at Walmart stores across 13 counties, the complaint says.

The plaintiffs, which include 12 district attorneys and California's Department of Toxic Substances Control, described Walmart in a press release as a "repeat offender" when it comes to waste disposal.

They cite a roughly $25 million settlement between California and Wal-Mart Stores Inc in 2010 that resolved a lawsuit alleging the company improperly stored, handled and dumped hazardous waste at stores throughout the state.

Their complaint also notes Wal-Mart's guilty plea in 2013 to federal charges that it had improperly discarded hazardous waste.

Walmart has since set up various hazardous waste management programs, the complaint says, but "the mere presence of a program and requisite training does not equate to compliance."

Walmart Inc, the largest retail chain in the United States, has about 300 stores and distribution centers in California, the lawsuit says.

The case is The People of the State of California v. Walmart Inc., Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda, No. N/A.

For California: Reed Sato with the Office of the Attorney General of California.

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