San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and 18 other District Attorneys throughout the state announced today that a $27.6 million settlement has been reached with Walmart for violations of environmental laws and regulations. It is one of the largest environmental settlements of this type brought by a prosecuting agency in U.S. history.
“This should serve as a warning to all companies doing business in the state and in San Diego County that they will not be allowed to flaunt environmental laws in place to keep our communities clean and safe—no matter how large or small the corporation,” said DA Dumanis.
The settlement was signed today by San Diego Superior Court Judge Linda B. Quinn. In it, Walmart agreed to pay $20 million in penalties to the 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental health agencies throughout California involved in the investigation; more than $1.6 million in costs for the investigation; and $3 million for Supplemental Environmental Projects benefiting prosecutors, investigators and regulators. Walmart also agreed to spend at least an additional $3 million toward keeping its stores in compliance with environmental laws and regulations.
The San Diego District Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office filed a civil complaint on April 2, alleging that each of the 236 Walmart stores, Sam’s Club stores, distribution centers and storage facilities in California were in violation of environmental laws and regulations. Walmart employees and management were improperly storing, handling, transporting and dumping hazardous waste, including pesticides, chemicals, paint, aerosols, acid, fertilizer and motor oil.
“Safety should always be the No. 1 priority for the hundreds of thousands of people who travel California’s freeways every day,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “This settlement ensures that Walmart obeys the laws when shipping potentially hazardous materials on our streets and highways.”
Federal, state and local investigators spent thousands of hours documenting the violations. The investigation began after an off-duty regulator from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health noticed a Walmart employee dumping bleach down a sink drain in April.