Energy & Environment

Target to pay $7.4M after probe found it illegally dumped hazardous waste in California

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Target has agreed to pay $7.4 million as part of a settlement with California after a state investigation found that it illegally dumped hazardous waste in California.

Minnesota-based Target will pay $3.2 million in fines and $3 million for compliance inspections and audits of trash facilities along with money for environmental projects.

Target did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the lawsuit settlement filed Wednesday in the Alameda County Superior Court, according to The Associated Press.

{mosads}California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said Wednesday that the state’s probe concluded that Target improperly disposed of hazardous materials between 2012 and 2016, dumping electronics, batteries, aerosol cans and compact fluorescent light bulbs into landfills in California.

The corporation also reportedly violated state laws by disposing of medical waste, including syringes, over-the-counter and prescribed pharmaceuticals, and confidential medical information about its customers, in the landfills. 

“Target’s ongoing and improper disposal of hazardous waste and contaminants harmed the public and the environment,” Becerra said. “We are confident that with these strong injunctive terms and penalties, Target will implement meaningful changes to prevent this from ever happening again.” 

Representatives for district attorney’s offices in the state found that between 2012 and 2014, Target unlawfully disposed of 2,038 items of hazardous waste, 175 items of confidential medical information of customers, and 94 items of medical waste, according to the attorney general’s office statement.

This is the second time Target has been penalized for dumping dangerous waste in California. As part of a 2011 settlement, Target agreed to pay $22.5 for violating state statutes about the proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste.

“We’ve made significant progress in the way we handle hazardous waste following our 2011 settlement with the state of California,” Target said in a statement to The Hill. “We continue work to improve our operations to best manage disposing of items like batteries, hairspray and laundry detergent that require additional, special care under California laws.

“Target [after this settlement] also will remind team members on best practices for handling environmentally sensitive items, commit to regular third-party audits and upgrade to clear trash bags in our stores for easier visual inspections,” the statement added. 

Updated at 2:01 p.m.

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