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Wal-Mart Agrees to Pay $82 Million for Hazardous Waste Violations

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of hazardous waste and agreed to pay the government $81.6 million.

In three cases in California and Missouri the U.S. Justice Department said the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant violated federal laws by failing to train employees about proper hazardous waste management. As a result, solid hazardous wastes were improperly disposed of in municipal waste bins and liquids poured into the local sewer system. They also were improperly transported, the Justice Department said in a news release.

The charges also included a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The California cases occurred in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Missouri case in Kansas City. In all, Wal-Mart will pay more than $110 million to resolve the cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Today, Wal-Mart 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.”

Wal-Mart said in a news release that since the incidents, which happened several years ago, the company has designed and implemented comprehensive environmental programs that remain in place today. 

“Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program,” said Phyllis Harris, senior vice president and chief compliance officer, Walmart U.S. “The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago. We are pleased that this resolves all of these issues raised by the government.”

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