January 5, 2015 (San Diego)--Safeway Inc. will pay nearly $10 million to settle charges that more than 500 of its California stores, including 64 in San Diego County, violated hazardous waste storage and disposal laws, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
The settlement resolves allegations that Safeway stores and distribution centers, including its Vons, Pavilions and Pak ‘n Save stores, violated California laws for the safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste from spills and customer returns of hazardous products. That includes electronic waste such as used batteries, medical waste, cleaners and more.
Seven of the 64 stores in San Diego County that were involved in the suit have closed.
The San Diego District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit worked with 41 other California District Attorneys and two city attorneys, including the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, to protect public health by obtaining the settlement and a permanent injunction against Safeway, which is based in Pleasanton, California.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis states, “Safely handling hazardous waste protects our environment and is vital to the health of all Californians.”
The investigation into Safeway’s practices began after discovery of improper shipments of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste to Safeway’s distribution. Investigators found that Safeway was also routinely sending hazardous and pharmaceutical wastes to local landfills not equipped to receive such waste.
As part of the judgment and injunction, California Safeway stores have adopted new policies and procedures designed to eliminate the improper disposal of retail hazardous waste products and pharmaceutical waste into store trash bins for eventual disposal into local landfills.
In addition, the corporation must pay $9.87 million in civil penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects. Safeway must also provide training to store managers to assure environmental compliance at the store level and conduct annual store audits.
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith concludes, “Through this sort of collaborative effort by City Attorneys and District Attorneys throughout the state, businesses can be brought into compliance with the law and meet their responsibilities to protect our environment.”