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California AG: Walmart illegally dumped tons of hazardous waste from stores

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that the state has filed a lawsuit against Walmart over allegations that it has improperly disposed of hazardous waste.

The lawsuit alleges Walmart disposed of items like aerosol cans, alkaline and lithium batteries, insect killer sprays and confidential customer information in local landfills rather than facilities that are authorized to receive those types of waste.

According to Bonta, Walmart is estimated to have illegally disposed of some 159,600 pounds of hazardous waste each year for the past six years.

Bonta said Monday during a briefing to announce the lawsuit:

The company’s behavior is unacceptable, and since it won’t clean up its act, we’re taking Walmart to court.”

Investigators with the state Department of Justice inspected Walmart trash compactors on 58 occasions across 13 counties between 2015 and this year, finding dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, according to Bonta.

The state has previously cited Walmart for improperly disposing hazardous waste, coming to a $25 million settlement with the company in 2010.

In a statement, Walmart called the lawsuit “unjustified” and argued the company is a “responsible corporate citizen” that complies with local, state and federal environmental protection laws:

The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common house-hold products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law. … We intend to defend the company.”

Bonta jointly filed the lawsuit with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the district attorneys of 12 counties, including Alameda, Monterey and Solano counties.

Monterey District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said in a statement:

Violations of California’s hazardous waste laws endanger workers and the integrity of our landfills and groundwater. … We are committed to bringing businesses into compliance with these laws to protect public safety.”

A copy of the lawsuit can be found at https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/Walmart%20Complaint.pdf.

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