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Walmart Agrees to Pay More Than $81 Million To Settle Federal Environmental Crimes

On May 28, 2013, in U.S. District Court, San Francisco, California, Walmart pleaded guilty to the negligent discharge of pollutants by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. This plea combines two cases in California and is part of a global settlement. Walmart also pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle returned pesticides by its' customers. As part of the plea agreement, Walmart was sentenced to pay a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million that will fund various community service projects, including opening a Retail Compliance Assistance Center and creating an Advanced Environmental Crimes Training Program for state and local law enforcement officers and regulatory inspectors to aid in the investigation of environmental crimes involving violations of the Clean Air Act, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Statute and other federal laws.

In total, Walmart will pay approximately $81.6 million to settle three criminal cases as well as a civil case filed by EPA. The unlawful conduct included improperly discarding hazardous wastes by placing them into municipal trash bins, or if a liquid, pouring into the local sewer system, or improperly transporting without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the U.S.

Walmart owns more than 4,000 stores nationwide that sell thousands of products which are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic or otherwise hazardous under federal law. The products that contain hazardous materials include pesticides, solvents, detergents, paints, aerosols and cleaners. Once discarded, these products are considered hazardous waste under federal law.