Dollar Tree Stores Inc. has agreed to pay more than $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit alleging some its California stores illegally disposed of hazardous waste in trash bins, Merced County prosecutors said Friday.
The ruling handed down by Judge Morris Jacobson in Alameda Superior Court orders the Virginia-based corporation to pay civil penalties and implement an improved hazardous waste compliance program at its retail stores and distribution centers in California, Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II said in a news release.
The judgment is the result of an investigation into Dollar Tree Stores’ disposal into store trash bins of hazardous waste products.
Ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other hazardous waste were illegally handled and disposed of at each of its stores and distribution centers, more than 480 facilities in California, including at least one store in Merced County, Morse said.
Instead of being transported to authorized hazardous waste facilities, the waste was illegally transported to local landfills not permitted to accept the waste, according to authorities.
“The disposal of hazardous waste in our local landfills is not only illegal, it threatens to contaminate our groundwater and other waterways. Such illegal disposal presents serious health risks to our communities and imperils future generations,” Morse said in the statement. “Today’s settlement represents an important affirmation of California prosecutors’ commitment to the protection of our environment.”
The investigation included statewide inspections of Dollar Tree Stores’ trash bins by inspectors from district attorneys’ offices and other environmental regulators who discovered that the company “was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills,” the news release stated.
Inspections also found Dollar Tree Stores “routinely failed to properly handle and dispose of hazardous waste,” prosecutors said.
“Prosecutors alerted Dollar Tree Stores to the widespread violations, and Dollar Tree Stores was cooperative throughout the continued investigation,” Morse said. “Dollar Tree Stores adopted and implemented new policies and procedures and training programs designed to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste.”
The hazardous waste is now being collected by state-registered haulers who transport it to authorized disposal facilities, and disposal is properly documented.