Haz Waste Violations at Over 200 Stores Cost Retail Chain $1.49M

Posted on 11/9/2020 by Lauren Scott

A home, bath, and kitchen supplies retailer is expected to pay $1,498,750 to resolve alleged violations of California’s Title 22 hazardous waste regulations at more than two hundred of its California locations. According to the settlement, the company improperly disposed of hazardous and electronic waste (e-waste) at local landfills that were not permitted to receive it.

Wastes allegedly mishandled include batteries; electronic devices; ignitable liquids; aerosol products; cleaning agents; and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials. The agreement was announced on October 28 after it was negotiated by over 30 California District Attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s office began its investigation after a fire broke out on December 24, 2015 at Oxnard City’s Del Norte Transfer Facility in a load of waste from the company’s local storefront. As a city employee used a front-end loader to spread the freshly dumped trash pile, the store waste caught fire.

Investigator at the scene recovered numerous e-waste and hazardous waste items, including lithium batteries and a small can of lighter fluid.

Another fire broke out several months later at the trash compactor attached to the company’s Oxnard store. That fire allegedly involved additional waste items, including batteries, broken compact fluorescent bulbs, and various discarded electronic devices.

Once notified of the alleged violations, the company took steps to cooperate with the investigation. The retailer has since dedicated additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its existing regulated-waste management program. These improvements include performing self-audits at the company’s waste bins and compactors throughout the Golden State.

Under the final settlement, the home retailer will pay $1,327,500 in civil penalties and partial reimbursement of investigation and prosecution costs. The company will pay an additional $171,250 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement in California. The company is also legally prohibited from similar future violations of State waste disposal regulations. This seven-figure enforcement action is the latest example of California authorities targeting retail stores for inspection.

Earlier this month, we reported that another retailer in the state must turn over ten years of information about its hazardous waste activities to facilitate an ongoing investigation. For failure to train employees on safe hazardous materials handling, a convenience store chain agreed to pay $1.5 million in 2019.

Also last year, an auto parts retailer entered an $11 million settlement following alleged hazardous waste disposal violations.

In 2018, a grocery chain was penalized $1.2 million for improper hazardous waste handling and disposal in California

California’s Unique Hazardous Waste Standards

Facilities in California are subject to some of the most complex and demanding hazardous waste laws and regulations on the books in the US today.

California professionals must have a complete understanding of the State laws and regulations that go above and beyond what’s required under Federal (US EPA) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements.

Last California Haz Waste Webinar of 2020

Be confident that you know the unique hazardous waste management and reporting rules that apply to generators in California. Lion will present the California Hazardous Waste Management Refresher webinar one final time in 2020, on December 8.

Led by an experienced Lion instructor, the California Hazardous Waste Management Refresher webinar is designed to help satisfy annual RCRA/Title 22 training mandates for hazardous waste personnel in California. Join us to get up to speed on the latest DTSC requirements, laws, and CUPA interpretations that affect the way your site manages its hazardous waste.

California more than doubled its penalties for hazardous waste violations in recent years. Compliance errors can now cost facilities up to $70,000 per day, per violation.

Tags: California, DTSC, enforcement, haz waste, hazardous waste, penalties, violations

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