Wal-Mart Slapped for|Hazardous Waste Dumping

     (CN) – Wal-Mart will pay $81.6 million for illegally dumping hazardous waste in California and Missouri, bringing its nationwide payments for this to $110 million.
     In California, the Justice Department filed six misdemeanor charges against the world’s largest retailer for violations of the Clean Water Act: three in Southern California and three in the Northern District.
     Wal-Mart also pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Mo., to violating federal laws on handling pesticides that customers had been returned.
     The Environmental Protection Agency also sued Wal-Mart. That lawsuit too was settled with the retailer’s guilty pleas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
     Wal-Mart reported $44.7 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2011. The $110 million in fines comes to about one-quarter of 1 percent of that annual revenue.
     If a corporation were a person, and the person earned $50,000 a year, a 0.025 percent fine on income would come to $125.
     The Justice Department said that until January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a hazardous waste program, and failed to train employees in its 4,000 stores on proper waste management and disposal practices. Wal-Mart employees dumped hazardous solids into municipal trash bins and into local sewer systems.
     “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,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.
     In California, it will pay a $40 million criminal fine and another $20 million for community service projects. The restitution includes $6 million to open a Retail Compliance Assistance Center, which will help other retailers learn how to handle hazardous waste.
     Southern and Northern California branches of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will split another $9 million, for environmental projects.
     Wal-Mart will pay Missouri $11 million in fines for years of sending unlabeled and unregistered pesticides to recycler Greenleaf LLC, in Neosho, Mo. Wal-Mart trucked more than 2 million pounds of pesticides to Greenleaf, which repackaged and resold the used poisons without ingredient or directions-for-use labels to unsuspecting customers.
     In 2008, a federal court convicted Greenleaf for its role in the scheme. That company paid a $200,000 fine in 2009, and Wal-Mart has spent $3.4 million to clean up Greenleaf’s facility.
     Missouri will get $3 million for its Department of Natural Resources to fund inspections and pesticide education.
     Finally, Wal-Mart will pay nearly $8 million to settle civil violations of FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, brought by the EPA. It must implement a comprehensive environmental compliance program in its stores nationwide to manage hazardous waste generated at the store level, which also is a condition of probation imposed in the criminal cases.
     Wal-Mart’s guilty pleas and civil settlements end years of investigation by the FBI and the EPA, as well as the California Department of Substance and Toxics Control and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

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