Alameda County Superior Court has ordered Target Corp. to pay $22.5 million as part of a settlement of a civil case that alleged the national retailer unlawfully disposed of various hazardous waste products for more than five years.
The settlement, signed on Wednesday, closes a lawsuit filed in 2009 by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, 20 district attorneys across the state, and the city attorneys of Los Angeles and San Diego.
The lawsuit claimed that more than 240 Target-operated facilities in California handled and improperly disposed of hazardous materials, including pesticides, paint, aerosols, oven cleaners, pool chemicals and drain openers, among others.
The dumping of materials may have gone on for more than five years, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen.
Company representatives were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday’s settlement.
Bay Area district attorneys who participated in the lawsuit were Nancy O’Malley of Alameda County, Robert Kochly of Contra Costa County, James Fox of San Mateo County, Dolores Carr of Santa Clara County, Dean Flippo of Monterey County and David Paulson of Solano County.
In Sept. 2010, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven Brick issued a preliminary injunction that prohibited Target and its employees from using unregistered haulers to transport hazardous waste and from transporting hazardous waste without the required manifests.
The injunction also barred the company from illegally managing and disposing of universal waste such as batteries, telephones, and computer and electronic equipment.
At the time of the injunction, Target, which is based in Minneapolis, released a prepared statement that said managers had “a comprehensive program to ensure our handling, storage, disposal and documentation of hazardous materials complies with California law, and we train our store teams regularly as part of this program.”
According to O’Malley, California law requires companies to store, handle and dispose of hazardous wastes and materials in specified ways to avoid contamination of the environment.
But O’Malley said prosecutors allege that Target routinely ignored those laws in an effort to cut costs.
Saul Sugarman, Bay City News