Walmart to pay over environment damage

2013-05-29 12:04


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San Francisco - Walmart Stores will pay $81.6m after pleading guilty in the US to criminal charges of improperly disposing of fertiliser, pesticides and other hazardous products that were pulled from stores in two states because of damaged packaging and other problems.

The world's largest retailer entered the plea in federal court in California to misdemeanour counts of violating the Clean Water Act and another environmental law regulating pesticides. In Missouri, the company pleaded guilty to improperly handling pesticides.

The plea agreements ended a nearly decade-old investigation that has cost Walmart a total of $110m.

Court documents show illegal dumping occurred in 16 California counties between 2003 and 2005. Prosecutors said the company didn't train its employees on how to handle and dispose hazardous materials and that waste was tossed into trash bins or poured into sewer systems.

In 2010, the company agreed to pay $27.6m to settle similar allegations made by California authorities that led to the overhaul of its hazardous waste compliance programme nationwide.

"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 S Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan said the company has fixed the problem and is "obviously happy that this is the final resolution".

Workers now have scanners that tell them whether a damaged package is considered to contain a hazardous material, she said.

The California investigation began eight years ago when a San Diego County health department employee saw a worker pouring bleach down a drain.
Read more on:    walmart  |  environment

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