Walmart: Low, low prices, big, big fines
How many $3 T-shirts add up to $27.6 million? Southern CA Superior Court orders Walmart to pay over $25 million in fines for mishandling hazardous materials.
Monday, May 3, 2010 - 19:57
On Monday, May 3, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced that the state Superior Court has ordered Walmart to pay $27.6 million in fines for its improper handling of hazardous waste at stores and other facilities throughout the state of California.
According to Legal Newsline, the Walmart probe began after a San Diego County Department of Environmental Health investigator witnessed a Walmart employee pour bleach down a common drain. A five-year inquiry ensued, in which auditors found violations at 236 Walmart and Sam's Club stores, distribution centers and storage facilities.
Walmart's website states that as of 2010 California is home to 43 supercenters, 134 discount stores, 33 Sam's Club stores and seven distribution centers.
The $27.6 million in fines will be divided, with approximately $20 million going to the state and about $6 million toward "supplemental environmental projects." The ruling also declares that Walmart is responsible for $1.6 million in legal fees and is ordered to spend an additional $3 million "to improve store maintenance." 19 other prosecutors, including CA State Attorney General (and upcoming Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown, as well as 32 environmental health agencies, joined DA Dumanis in the Walmart lawsuit.
Bizjournals reported on the day of the announcement that Walmart was disgruntled by the strict regulations the state imposes on businesses. The company commented that, "California and federal laws generally allow households simply to discard consumer products in their trash cans. However, businesses have a completely different set of requirements." An example given was the disparity between how carefully the chain must handle seemingly inconsequential items such as "damaged nail polish bottles or hair spray cans," which people in private residences typically just toss in the trash.
Not many private residences measure 185,000 square feet and contain 142,000 items though — even in Beverly Hills.
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