Press release from the Mono County District Attorney’s Office:
Mono County District Attorney Tim Kendall announced today that Rite Aid Corporation has been ordered to pay more than $12.3 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that some 600 California Rite Aid stores unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous materials.
The judgment marks the culmination of a joint environmental protection lawsuit filed in early September 2013 by the District Attorneys in 52 California counties including the District Attorney for Mono County.
District Attorney Kendall is extremely proud of the environmental law prosecutors from the California District Attorneys Association who handled the majority of the litigation. “Their deep commitment to keeping our communities healthy and for holding violators accountable for crimes against the environment should be applauded.”
The case originated from an investigation by local environmental health agencies in Los Angeles during the fall of 2009. The investigation expanded when prosecutors, investigators and environmental regulators statewide came together to conduct a series of waste inspections at Rite Aid facilities and at landfills throughout California.
The inspections revealed that during a six-and-a-half year period Rite Aid transported hazardous waste, disposing it to local landfills. The hazardous products allegedly discarded included pesticides, bleach, paint, aerosols, automotive products and solvents, pharmaceutical and bio hazardous wastes and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials. The Rite Aid in Mammoth Lakes was not investigated but was included in the law suit because their procedure for disposal was the same pursuant to Rite Aid’s policy and practices.
Under the final judgment, Rite Aid must pay $10.35 million in civil penalties and costs. Additionally, the Pennsylvania based company must fund several environmental projects that further consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California.
Rite Aid will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting the retailer from committing future violations. The penalties collected from Rite Aid are required to be used for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. Throughout the course of the environmental prosecution, Rite Aid has cooperated with prosecutors and investigators, and has to adopted enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste products in California.
Moving forward, stores will be required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers so as to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions.
California Rite Aid stores now work with state-registered haulers to document, collect and properly dispose of hazardous waste produced through damage, spills and returns. Moreover, Rite Aid has implemented a computerized scanning system and other environmental training to manage its waste.