Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets will pay nearly $2.6 million to settle a case involving hazardous waste violations in 35 California counties.
The settlement concerns Save Mart's storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste, according to a news release from the Sacramento County district attorney's office. The original case was filed in San Joaquin County and includes Stanislaus, Merced and Tuolumne counties.
The settlement, announced Wednesday, covers all of Save Mart's 251 supermarkets and distribution centers in the state. In addition to Save Mart stores, the company owns the Food Maxx, Maxx Value Foods and Lucky brands.
The investigation involved state and county environmental and health agencies, hazardous waste inspectors and participating district attorneys' offices. Save Mart worked with prosecutors and investigators to address the specific violations that were found, according to the news release.
The violations occurred over several years.
Save Mart will pay $2.557 million in civil penalties, costs and expenses for future environmental enforcement activities in California.
In Stanislaus County, $22,500 will go to a trust fund to investigate and prosecute consumer fraud cases, and $19,500 will be paid to the county Department of Environmental Resources.
According to court documents, the hazardous materials include "over-the-counter medications, pharmaceuticals, aerosol products, ignitable liquids, batteries, electronic devices, pool chemicals and other toxic, reactive, ignitable and/or corrosive materials."
The grocery chain "moved quickly to address its shortcomings in handling hazardous wastes" when notified of the investigation, according to the news release.
In its own news release, Save Mart said it has "retrained our store employees to ensure compliance with proper disposal practices."
The company said no customers were at risk. "The case was not related to any fresh grocery products or any items that were sold to our customers, nor were there any injuries suffered by even a single one of our customers," according to the statement.