A California judge has ordered Target Corp. to pay $22.5 million for illegally disposing hazardous waste at stores throughout the state, according to prosecutors.
Judge Steven Brick approved the payment as part of a settlement of a civil lawsuit filed by the state, 21 county district attorneys and city attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles.
All 25 Target stores in San Diego County were involved in the hazardous waste violations, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
“This settlement is only the first step in Target’s obligation to clean up its act. A permanent injunction, signed by the court, will hold Target accountable for any failures to follow the letter of the law down the road, even after the civil penalties and costs are paid,” said San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis.
Target mishandled waste from 2002 until a few months after the lawsuit was filed in June 2009, said supervising deputy state attorney general Tim Patterson.
Authorities say Target had no special procedures for handling waste such as oven cleaners, pool chemicals and hair coloring.
“Thanks to the hard work of our Environmental Unit and fellow prosecutors across California, Target stores in San Diego County are no longer routinely and systematically dumping hazardous waste into the environment,” said Dumanis.
Many California Target stores have adopted new policies and procedures as a result of the prosecution, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Stores are now required to maintain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers.