Wal-Mart Will Pay $81.6 Million in Pollutant Dumping Case

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, will pay $81.6 million after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges that its stores improperly disposed of hazardous waste throughout California in 2003 and 2004.

Corrosive and hazardous liquid waste from common consumer products were dumped into drains of public sewers owned by local sanitation districts in violation of U.S. laws, prosecutors said today in a federal court filing in San Francisco.

Under a plea agreement, Wal-Mart will pay $60 million in fines and community service payments in California, $14 million in fines and community service payments in Missouri and a $7.6 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fine, according to a Justice Department statement.

Truckloads of hazardous products, including more than 2 million pounds of pesticides, were improperly handled, according to federal prosecutors in Missouri.

The incidents occurred years ago and no specific environmental impact has been alleged, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in an e-mailed statement. Since then, Wal-Mart designed and implemented comprehensive environmental programs that remain in place today, according to the statement.

“Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program,” Phyllis Harris, senior vice president and chief compliance officer, Walmart US, said in the statement. “The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago.”

The California case is U.S. v. Wal-Mart, 13-00334, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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