US retail giant Walmart fined $110 mn for environmental offences

Pleading guilty to charges of environmental crimes, including mishandling of hazardous waste and pesticides, US retail giant Walmart has agreed to pay $110 million in settlement of the cases.

According to the US justice department Walmart stores had pleaded guilty in cases filed by the federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violation of the Clean Water Act through illegal handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the country.

The retail chain also pleaded guilty to breach of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as it failed to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.

As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the justice department, as also related civil case filed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Walmart would pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct.

According to the justice department, coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Walmart would pay a combined total of over $110 million in resolving cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

Federal authorities said Walmart had no programme for training employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level.

The end result was that hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level - including being put into municipal trash bins or, in case of liquid waste was, poured into the local sewer system – or their transport happened without proper safety documentation, it said.

Walmart owns over 4,000 stores in the US that retal thousands of products that are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic or otherwise hazardous under federal law.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the company pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay $81 million.

The retailer pleaded guilty to six counts of violation of the Clean Water Act.

In cases filed in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Wal-Mart pleaded guilty to six counts of Clean Water Act violation through illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the US.

The company further pleaded guilty in Kansas City, to violation of federal law governing the proper handling of pesticides that had been returned by customers at stores across the country.