The thing about hazardous waste is… well, it says it right there — it’s hazardous. As in not good for people, the environment, or anything in general. Which is why you can’t just go dumping it wherever you want, like sanitation drains. Walmart just pleaded guilty today on charges that it did just that in California, and is now on the hook for a hefty amount.
The Associated Press says Walmart entered its guilty plea today in federal court in San Francisco in response to misdemeanor counts of negligently dumping pollutants from its stores into sanitation drains across the state.
It’ll pay up $81 million as part of the plea, part of which will cover similar charges in Missouri.
This isn’t the first time the mega retailer has found itself up to its neck in pollution problems, either: Back in 2010, it agreed to pay out $27.6 million to settle dumping allegations brought by California authorities.
That settlement regarded the improper disposal of pesticide, fertilzer and paint and led the company to promise it was establishing changes in its practices across the country.
UPDATE: A Walmart spokeswoman reached out to Consumerist to clarify that the incidents referenced in the above story stem from events in 2003 and 2005. Since 2006, the company says it has implemented a new program to make sure that stores nationwide — and not just in California and Missouri — are properly disposing of waste from products like deodorant, nail polish and hairspray.
In a press release, the company’s senior vice president and chief compliance officer, Phyllis Harris, says:
“Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program. The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago.”
As for today’s plea and the 2010 statement, Harris adds: “We are pleased that this resolves all of these issues raised by the government.”
Wal-Mart pleads guilty in Calif hazardous waste [Associated Press]