Big Lots Stores Inc. has been ordered to pay a more than $3.5 million settlement for illegally disposing of hazardous waste from its California stores and distribution center.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, along with 34 other California district attorneys and two city attorneys, on Thursday announced the order by San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Byran F. Foster.
Ohio-based Big Lots Stores Inc and its subsidiary corporations, which own and operate Big Lots stores in the state and a distribution center in Rancho Cucumonga, were ordered to pay $3,507,500 in civil penalties, costs and supplemental environmental projects, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office news release.
The judgment resulted from an investigation that found Big Lots unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste at its distribution center and its 206 California stores.
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Yolo County is home to two Big Lots stores – one in Woodland and one in West Sacramento.
“The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other e-waste,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Atttorney David Irey, who prosecuted the case for Yolo County, said in a written statement. “In some instances, the hazardous waste was the result of overstock or expired merchandise. In others, it was the result of spills, damaged containers and customer returns.”
Instead of being transported to hazardous waste facilities, the waste was placed in the trash and illegally transported to landfills that weren’t permitted to receive the waste, the news release said.
Prosecutors alerted Big Lots to the violations and the company cooperated with the investigation. The hazardous waste is now being collected by state-registered haulers who take it to authorized disposal facilities, the news release said, and the disposal is now being properly documented.
Under the settlement, Big Lots must pay $2,017,500 in civil penalties and $336,250 to reimburse costs of the investigation. An additional $350,000 will fund supplemental environmental enforcement and consumer protection efforts in California. The company also will fund projects valued at $803,750 to minimize hazardous waste and improve compliance, and has adopted policies, procedures and training programs designed to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste, the news release said.