The parent company of Dollar General Stores agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to settle a civil case accusing the stores of unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste in local landfills around California, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward announced on Monday.
A lawsuit filed against Dolgen California in Kern County April 11 stated that over a five-year period Dollar General retail stores and their distribution center in California were managing and disposing of hazardous waste and materials unlawfully, said Ward. The materials included automotive fluids, alkaline batteries, electronic waste, aerosol cans, expired over-the-counter medications and other toxic, flammable waste.
Environmental regulators and inspectors from district attorney offices in California conducted a statewide undercover investigation. Ward said three waste bin inspections revealed that the company had routinely been sending hazardous waste to local landfills where it is not permitted. In addition, documentation of employee hazardous waste training was found inaccurate or incomplete.
The Tennessee-based company was cooperative throughout the investigation and agreed to the final judgment, Ward said. The company eliminated the improper disposal of hazardous wastes by enhancing its policies and procedures. As required by the judgment, hazardous waste must be labeled, packaged and stored. Any hazardous waste produce by Dollar General is now being collected by state-registered haulers, sent to the appropriate disposal facilities and correctly documented.
Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ordered Dolgen California to pay $500,000 in civil penalties, Ward said, and an additional $375,000 for the reimbursement of the investigation. The Tulare County District Attorney’s office will receive $60,000 of those penalties and investigation costs and $8,817.50 will go towards Tulare County Environmental Health. An additional $112,000 will provide funds for environmental projects. These projects will provide more consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California. The business will also support hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $138,000.