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Walgreens ordered to pay more than $3 million for unlawful disposal of hazardous waste


RIVERSIDE – Today, Dec. 22, 2020, District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced that a $3.5 million stipulated judgment has settled allegations that Illinois-based Walgreen Co. (Walgreens) unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste at its California facilities.

This judgment settles allegations that Walgreens unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste in violation of state laws and terms from a prior stipulated judgment in 2012.

The current settlement follows an investigation by prosecutors in several California counties of Walgreens’ conduct between 2013 into 2020 during which it is alleged the company disposed of hazardous waste into company trash bins that were going to municipal landfills not authorized to accept hazardous waste. The items included over-the-counter and prescription medication, electronic devices, batteries, aerosol products, and cleaning agents.

The settlement also resolves allegations that Walgreens failed to shred or destroy customer records containing confidential information before they were disposed.

This is the second settlement resolving allegations that Walgreens mismanaged hazardous waste at its California pharmacies and retail businesses. In June 2012, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and other DA’s Offices across California filed a complaint in Alameda County alleging that Walgreens violated state statutes and regulations regarding the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. That lawsuit was resolved in December 2012 with Walgreens paying $16.57 million in penalties, costs, and funding for supplemental environmental projects. Walgreens was also required to comply with injunctive terms.

The current stipulated judgment requires Walgreens to now pay an additional $3.5 million -- $2.8 million in civil penalties, $400,000 to reimburse investigative and enforcement costs, and $300,000 for supplemental environmental projects. The settlement also requires Walgreens to continue to employ four California-based compliance employees to oversee its hazardous waste compliance program. Walgreens also will be required to undergo waste audits in at least five percent of its California facilities to ensure hazardous waste and confidential consumer information are properly disposed of in all stores and the company must comply with injunctive requirements of hazardous waste management and confidential consumer record protection laws.

Walgreens owns about 600 retail and pharmacy facilities in California. There are 49, including one distribution center, in Riverside County.

This case was prosecuted by DA’s Offices in Riverside, Alameda, Monterey, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo counties, along with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Walgreens cooperated with all those involved in the prosecution.

The case was filed in Alameda County and prosecuted in Riverside County by Deputy DA Lauren R. Martineau of the DA’s Environmental Protection Unit.

The stipulated judgment was signed on Dec. 17, 2020, by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith.

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Author: John Hall

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