Dollar General settles over hazardous waste
tulare county – A Kern County judge has ordered the company that owns Dollar General stores and a distribution center in California, Dolgen California, to pay $1.12 million as part of a civil settlement for unlawfully disposing hazardous wastes over a five-year period.
The final judgment was announced Monday, April 17 by the Kern County District Attorney’s office and 31 other California district attorneys. The lawsuit alleged that Dollar General retail stores throughout the state and their distribution center unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a 5-year period. Those hazardous wastes and materials included automotive fluids, alkaline batteries, electronic waste, aerosol cans, expired over the counter medications and other toxic, ignitable, and corrosive wastes.
Under the settlement, Dolgen California must pay $500,000 in civil penalties and $375,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. Of those penalties and costs, $60,000 are awarded to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, and $8,817.50 to Tulare County Environmental Health. An additional $112,000 will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. Dolgen will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $138,000. The retailer will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.
Inspectors from district attorney offices and environmental regulators statewide conducted a series of undercover inspections of waste bins originating at Dollar General retail stores and facilities. The inspections revealed that Dollar General retail stores and their distribution center had been routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes. Tulare County District Attorney investigators and Tulare County Environmental Health performed three waste inspections, with similar results. Regulators also found the documentation of employee hazardous waste training to be inaccurate or incomplete.
Dollar General was cooperative throughout the investigation and quickly responded to enhance its policies and procedures designed to eliminate the improper disposal of hazardous waste products in California. The Judgment requires hazardous waste be labeled, packaged and stored to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers.
The proper handling of hazardous wastes also ensures that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions. Hazardous waste produced by California Dollar General retail stores, through damage, spills, and returns, is now being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities, and properly documented.