Target Corp., the second-largest U.S. discount retailer, will pay $22.5 million to settle claims that it illegally dumped toxic waste in Los Angeles and throughout the state, the City Attorney's Office announced Thursday.
The settlement approved by an Oakland judge resolves a 2009 civil lawsuit brought by former California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the city attorneys of Los Angeles and San Diego and 20 district attorneys of California counties, alleging numerous violations of the state's Hazardous Waste Control law.
A call for comment to Target's media office was not immediately returned.
The complaint, filed in Alameda County, alleged that over an eight-year period, more than 200 Target stores throughout California routinely stored, transported and dumped hazardous wastes, including bleaches, pesticides, paints, aerosols and other flammable and corrosive materials.
According to the lawsuit, tons of hazardous wastes and contaminated materials were crushed along with discarded merchandise and garbage in massive compactors, and sent to area landfills, instead of being hauled to authorized disposal sites.
Hazardous waste was also disposed of by passing on damaged and unusable items through donations to charities, according to the suit.
Multiple stores in Los Angeles County, for example, sent tons of products that could not be sold to the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. But those shipments contained more than 5,000 pounds of damaged, leaking and unusable items with flammable, toxic and corrosive properties, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
The investigation began in 2002 with the help of numerous environmental health agencies statewide.
Last September, the company was ordered by the court to cease unlawful disposal and handling of hazardous waste under a statewide preliminary injunction.
Under the terms of the settlement, Minnesota-based Target Corp. will pay a total of $22.5 million in civil penalties, reimbursement for investigative costs and environmental projects to the state and several local prosecution agencies, including the city of Los Angeles.
As part of the settlement, Target is subject to an injunction that prohibits the company from disposing of hazardous waste at unauthorized places; transporting hazardous waste to an unauthorized facility; transferring hazardous waste to an unregistered transporter; disposing of hazardous waste without first filing a hazardous waste manifest; transporting hazardous waste without filing a hazardous waste manifest; and managing or disposing of any universal waste without first complying with all applicable requirements.
Target operates about 240 retail stores and seven distribution centers throughout California, including more than four dozen stores located in the both the city and county of Los Angeles.