Walmart will pay $27 million in fines after its employees were accused of illegally dumping pesticides and hazardous chemicals like paint, fertilizer and motor oil.
An off-duty regulator from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health witnessed a Walmart employee dumping bleach down a sink drain in April 2005.
That launched an investigation by federal state and local investigators.
Five years later, on April 2, 2010, the state attorney general and the San Diego County district attorney filed a civil suit alleging 236 Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs, distribution centers and storage facilities in the state of California were violating environmental laws.
A settlement was reached Monday in which Walmart will pay $20 million in penalities to 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental health agencies around the state. More than $1.6 million will cover costs for the investigation, according to a news release issued Monday, and another $3 million for “supplemental environmental projects benefiting prosecutors, investigators and regulators.”
Walmart will also spend at least $3 million to keep its stores in compliance with environmental laws, according to the settlement.
The company has hired more staff and developed new procedures at their stores and clubs that are compliant with California law, Harris said in a company statement. Among those new procedures is clearly identifying which consumer products sold in stores and clubs constitute hazardous waste if discarded, and providing the information to store and club associates through handheld terminals and shelf labels.
"We’re a better company today as a result of these programs," Harris is quoted in the company's release. "And we’ll continue to look for opportunities to make our environmental compliance programs even stronger in the future."