Retail giant Target agrees to pay $22.5m to settle allegations it illegally dumped toxic waste

Daily Mail |February 5, 2011

U.S. discount retailer Target has agreed to pay $22.5million to settle a six-year government investigation into claims it illegally dumped pesticides, bleach and other toxic substances.

The firm reached a tentative agreement with California's attorney general - but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing as part of the deal, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Under the settlement, it must also train staff how to dispose of hazardous waste properly and pay an independent auditor to check compliance for three years. An Alameda County judge will review the deal on March 2.

Target, which has 236 stores in California and almost 1,750 across the U.S., faces multiple allegations of breaking the state's waste disposal laws.

In 2009, Jerry Brown, California's then-attorney general - and now its governor - along with 20 counties and the city of Los Angeles sued the chain at Alameda County Superior Court for illegally dumping bleach, oven cleaner and paint into the state's landfill sites.

Environmental health inspectors issued more than 300 notices of violations in eight years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Prosecutors accused Target of pouring returned or defective chemicals down the drain and throwing incompatible, combustible liquids like ammonia and bleach into rubbish bins.

The Minneapolis-based chain also faces accusations it gave toxic waste to local charities, including the Los Angeles Regional Food bank, which received more than 5,000lb of unusable, flammable and toxic products in 2008, reports the Los Angeles Times.

According to the terms of the deal, Target  will pay around $3.4million to the California attorney general's office as well as smaller sums to city attorneys in Los Angeles and San Diego and district attorneys in 20 counties.

In a statement released Friday, Target said it 'has 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.

'We will continue to devote substantial resources in order to remain a responsible corporate steward of the environment.'

The attorney general's office declined to comment to the Associated Press and messages left at Target's Minneapolis headquarters were not immediately returned.