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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Walmart illegally dumped hazardous waste, says California lawsuit

By Malathi Nayak and Jennifer Hijazik , bloomberg

Walmart was sued by California for dumping hazardous waste, including toxic cleaning supplies, pesticides and batteries, into local landfills.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday announced a complaint against the retail giant for illegally disposing of waste since 2015 at more than 300 stores.

“We’re not talking about some batteries and insecticide cans here,” Bonta said at a news conference. “Walmart’s own audit found that the company is illegally disposing of hazardous waste in California at a rate of more than 1 million items each year.”

Bonta said the discarded products “could seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or as hazardous gases into the air.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California’s top attorney joined the state’s Toxic Substance Control Department, and 12 California district attorneys filed the complaint in Alameda County Superior Court.

Also signing the complaint are the DAs of San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties.

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“Our office was an integral partner with other counties and the California Department of Justice,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “We are committed to ensuring the safety of the public and the environment from violations of hazardous waste laws.”

Bonta said that inspections by the state in 2015 showed that Walmart continued to illegally dispose of waste after a $25 million settlement with the state in 2010.

According to a statement from Bonta’s office, “From 2015 to 2021, California investigators conducted 58 inspections in 13 counties retrieved from Walmart stores.” “In every single case, they found dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personal information.”

In addition to seeking damages under garbage disposal laws, California also accused Walmart of failing to protect confidential customer information in violation of consumer privacy laws.

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