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Walmart will pay $27.6 million to settle allegations that it dumped hazardous waste at its California stores. According to San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, each of the company's 236 stores and distribution centers across California were violating environmental laws. Dumanis joined more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups in a five-year investigation into the retailer.
"Today a corporate giant has been held accountable for its actions, and Walmart is cleaning up its act," Dumanis said of the Walmart lawsuit. "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,"
Walmart allegedly dumped pesticide, fertilizer, paint, aerosols and other chemicals. As the Associated Press reports, the Walmart settlement may not be the end of the story, as the possibility of civil suits remain, as well as possible federal charges.
The Walmart lawsuit investigation began in a straight-forward manner, when an employee from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health allegedly saw a Walmart employee pouring bleach down a drain. Over the course of the next five years, a series of violations were discovered and the case snowballed.
Walmart environmental spokesman Phyllis Harris says the company has since cleaned up its act.
"It's important to note that these incidents happened at least four years ago," she said. "Since then, we have worked closely with the state of California on a comprehensive hazardous waste plan that includes improved training programs, policies and procedures."