Automotive after market retail and service chain Pep Boys has agreed to pay $3.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated California laws by illegally disposing of automotive fluids and other waste, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said on Monday.
O'Malley said Pep Boys, which is based in Philadelphia and is known in the state as The Pep Boys Manny Moe & Jack of California, routinely and illegally disposed of automotive fluids, used motor oil and other hazardous wastes into company waste bins destined for municipal landfills which aren't authorized to accept hazardous waste.
O'Malley, who filed suit with eight other district attorneys in the state, said the settlement also resolves allegations that Pep Boys routinely failed to shred customer records containing confidential information before disposing of those items into the trash.
"When businesses like this one illegally dispose of toxic waste, they pollute our natural resources," O'Malley said in a statement.
O'Malley said, "Substances like motor oil and automotive fluids leach into the soil and the groundwater. They make their way into streams, and eventually the San Francisco Bay, poisoning wildlife, sea life alike."
O'Malley previously announced a $9.86 million statewide settlement with O'Reilly's Auto Parts in November 2016 and an $11 million statewide settlement with AutoZone, Inc. in June 2019 for similar violations of California's hazardous waste laws.
Pep Boys owns or operates approximately 151 retail facilities and a distribution center in California.
O'Malley said inspectors from her office's Environmental
Protection Unit, investigators from other district attorney offices and environmental regulators across the state conducted a series of undercover inspections of waste bins originating at 19 separate Pep Boys facilities in California from April 2014 through November 2017.
She said the inspections found numerous instances of unlawful disposal of hazardous waste, including automotive fluids, batteries, aerosol cans, electronic devices, used oil and other regulated hazardous waste.
O'Malley said Pep Boys also violated laws protecting vulnerable confidential consumer information by unlawfully disposing of customer records without having rendered personal information unreadable.
When Pep Boys officials were notified by the prosecutors of the alleged unlawful disposals, they fully cooperated and quickly responded to enhance company policies and procedures designed to eliminate the improper disposal of hazardous waste products in California, according to O'Malley.
The $3.7 million settlement consists of $1.815 million for civil penalties, $260,000 for supplemental environmental projects and $425,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs.
O'Malley said Pep Boys will get a credit of $1.2 million against the penalties if it undertakes at least $2.4 million in environmental enhancement work not required by law.