has agreed to payout $3.6 million to put to end litigation against it for violations of state hazardous waste laws, the Santa Clara County District Attorney office announced Monday.
The settlement between prosecutorial offices around the state and Costco releases the store from liability from the allegations the national big box retailer did not ensure safe storage, handling and disposal of cleaning products, pharmaceutical products and other hazardous waste. The suit originated in Alameda County.
As home to seven Costco stores, Santa Clara County will receive $29,750 in civil penalties plus $750 for the costs of the prosecution.
"It’s very important that prosecutors work together on environmental investigations and prosecutions. Environmental destruction does not stop at one county's border,’" said Prosecutor Tina Nunes-Ober. "We thereby create a cleaner, safer environment for all Californians and a level playing field for all companies and individuals doing business in our state."
The statewide probe concluded that Costco improperly disposed of aerosol cans, used batteries and electronic devices. The investigations, which began in San Joaquin County, also found that employees did not dispose of the in-house cleaning supplies or other hazardous wastes safely.
According to the DA, the violations had occurred over a period of five years at numerous Costco stores and distribution centers across the state. When aleted, Costco officials cooperated with prosecutors and quickly came into compliance. Costco will be bound by the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar violations in the future.
The settlement will also fund environmental projects for enforcement and prosecution of environmental cases statewide, the DA's office explained.
As part of an analogous investigation, CVS settled with the state in April for $13.75 million.
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