Wal-Mart Toxic Dumping: What's The Penalty For Throwing Out Chemical Waste?

By Philip Ross on May 29, 2013 1:12 PM EDT

wal mart toxic dumping
A Wal-Mart toxic dumping case resulted in the retailer dolling out millions of dollars in damages. The retail change, which is the world’s largest private employer, is no stranger to controversy. (Photo: Reuters)

A Wal-Mart toxic dumping case culminated in the retail chain getting slapped with a very large fine. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty on Tuesday to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act in California, and one case, in Missouri, of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Raw Story reports.

In a federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, press release, the U.S. Department of Justice said the world's largest retailer will pay more than $110 million in fines after it violated criminal and civil laws meant to protect our waters and ensure that hazardous waste and pesticides are correctly disposed of.

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"By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk," Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart employees in California reportedly dumped hazardous chemicals into trash bins and sewer systems, and, at a recycling facility in Missouri, the company mixed damaged products together and resold them.

According to the FBI, three criminal cases were brought against Wal-Mart regarding its dumping of toxic waste; two cases were brought up in California (one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco), and one in Missouri. From the FBI:

Until January 2006, Walmart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level-including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system-or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

This isn't the first instance in which Wal-Mart has had to right its wrongs. Just last year, the retailer paid $4.8 million in damages and back wages to thousands of its employees after the U.S. Department of Labor found that Wal-Mart violated federal law by failing to pay overtime.

According to Reuters, the company considered certain employees exempt from overtime benefits even though the workers were actually eligible for the pay.

Read more from iScience Times:

Hunter Shoots Deer At Wal-Mart: Arcangelo Bianco Jr. Faces Charges Of Reckless Endangerment

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