SAN DIEGO–The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office along with 50 other California District Attorneys offices, announced a $9.86 million settlement today against Missouri-based O’Reilly Auto Parts as part of a civil environmental prosecution alleging the company mishandled hazardous waste.
The settlement was approved by the Alameda County Superior Court and led by the District Attorneys of San Diego, Alameda, Yolo, Ventura, San Joaquin, San Francisco, Monterey, Riverside, and Solano counties.
The judgment, agreed to by O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC, O’Reilly Automotive, Inc., O’Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc., and Ozark Automotive Distributors, Inc., resolves allegations made in the civil enforcement lawsuit, which claimed that more than 525 O’Reilly stores throughout California unlawfully handled, transported and disposed of used oil, used oil filters, and various hazardous wastes and materials over a five-year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included automotive fluids, alkaline batteries, electronic waste, aerosol cans and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive wastes.
“Protecting our environment and safely handling dangerous waste is paramount for all businesses in California,” DA Bonnie Dumanis said. “Our environmental protection team did an outstanding job prosecuting this case and collaborating with other agencies to arrive at today’s multi-million dollar judgment.”
Environmental inspectors, investigators and regulators conducted a series of undercover inspections in 2013 and 2014 of waste bins originating at O’Reilly stores, finding they had been routinely sending used oil, oil filters, and hazardous waste to landfills throughout California, which were not permitted to receive the waste in question.
The investigation also revealed that O’Reilly was routinely and unlawfully transporting hazardous waste from its stores to its California distribution centers without required licenses. The statewide waste inspections revealed that 42 out of 43 O’Reilly stores and both O’Reilly distribution centers were in violation of state law. There are 41 O’Reilly stores in San Diego County.
O’Reilly was cooperative throughout the investigation and quickly enhanced its policies and procedures to eliminate improper disposal of used oil, used oil filters and hazardous waste products in California. Stores are required to properly manage used oil and automotive oil filters, and to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers, to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible waste does not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by California O’Reilly stores through damage, spills and returns is being collected by state-registered haulers. It is taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented and accounted for.
Under the settlement, O’Reilly will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law. O’Reilly must also pay $6 million in civil penalties and $500,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. An additional $1.51 million will fund supplemental environmental projects, furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. In addition, O’Reilly will fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $1.85 million of which San Diego County’s share will be $406,000 in civil penalties, $57,900 in costs, and $31,400 in other penalties and costs.