News

Lowe's agrees to pay $18 million for environmental violations

Agreement resolves civil enforcement action filed in Alameda County

A local judge has ordered North Carolina-based Lowe's Home Centers to pay $18 million in damages for environmental violations at stores in California, Bay Area prosecutors announced Wednesday.

A civil enforcement action filed in Alameda County Superior Court by 32 California district attorneys and two city attorneys alleged that more than 118 Lowe's stores in the state unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials over a 6.5-year period.

Prosecutors said the hazardous wastes and materials included pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr., imposed the damage award to settle the civil environmental prosecution, which was led by the district attorneys of Alameda, San Joaquin and Solano counties.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a statement, "It is imperative that any business operating in the state of California dispose of hazardous wastes safely and legally."

She said, "Today's action represents a major victory for our state's environment, and I wish to commend the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and all the district attorney offices involved in this prosecution."

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, "The dangers inherent in dumping hazardous waste cannot be understated, it is absolutely essential that we protect our environment for future generations."

He said, "Those who would jeopardize our environment are on notice -- they will be held liable."

Prosecutors said Lowe's was cooperative throughout the investigation and has adopted and implemented enhanced policies and procedures designed to eliminate the disposal of hazardous waste products in California.

They said Lowe's stores are now required to retain their hazardous waste in segregated, labeled containers in order to minimize the risk of exposure to employees and customers and to ensure that incompatible wastes do not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions.

Hazardous waste produced by Lowe's stores in California through damage, spills and returns is now being collected by state-registered haulers, taken to proper disposal facilities and properly documented and accounted for, prosecutors said.

Lowe's spokeswoman Amanda Manna said the company agreed to the settlement as part of "our commitment to comply with all local, state and federal regulations for the disposal of hazardous materials."

Prosecutors said that from 2011 to 2013, inspectors from the environmental protection division in the Alameda County DA's Office and investigators from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, along with other district attorney investigators and environmental regulators statewide, conducted a series of waste inspections of dumpsters belonging to Lowe's stores.

They said the inspections revealed that Lowe's was routinely and systematically sending hazardous wastes to local landfills throughout California that were not permitted to receive those wastes.

Prosecutors said the inspections also revealed that at some Lowe's stores, batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs that the company had gathered from customers at store recycling kiosks as part of a program to responsibly reduce waste were unlawfully being discarded directly to the trash.

Under the final judgment, Lowe's must pay $12.85 million in civil penalties and costs.

The company must also pay an additional $2.075 million to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in California and fund hazardous waste minimization projects of $3.175 million.

A permanent injunction bars the retailer from committing similar violations of law in the future.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mother Earth
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Lowes got off easy. Big business without regard for environment should be punished much heavily. There should be a lesson for others. 18mil is peanuts, must be atleast 10x.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julia Pardini
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

@Mother Whatever take the blinders off! Lowes has done nothing wrong, business can only thrive with least oversight.

Thanks for listening.

Julia Pardini from Alamo


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

The posted message above was not created by the true Julia Pardini. Some one just loves to hide behind me.. No guts you coward.

By the way I personally think Lowe's is guilty as charged and must pay the fine.

Also by the way, I know what the imposter is trying to do. He/She is trying to ruin my good name and reputation. Please do not be scared to use your name when making comments. No one is going to spank you.

Thank you for listening to the real Julia Pardini from beautiful Alamo


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Did Al gore--the inventor of the Internet and the global warming myths get a cut


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Apr 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Hazardous waste disposal laws have been around for 35 years.

There is no excuse for Lowe's not following the laws that everyone else has to abide by. They were either too lazy, didn't care, or tried to save money by shifting the costs (in environmental and health damage) to others.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Kluget
a resident of Danville
on Apr 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I always enjoy reading up on the reality-free rants of right wingers like Chris. It shows how easy it is to convince gullible folks things like "global warming is a myth" and that Al Gore claimed to have "invented" the internet.

You have to wonder what it's like to wander around in a world where you believe what you're told to believe, spit at whoever you're told to spit at, and never, ever check the facts for yourself?


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