California lawmakers have filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart of illegally dumping hazardous waste into landfills statewide, according to NPR. A 42-page document submitted Monday details that the company has disposed of 160,000 pounds of hazardous every year since 2015.
“Walmart’s own audits found that the company is dumping hazardous waste at local landfills at a rate of more than one million items each year. From there, these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.
Bonta and 12 California district attorneys argue that Walmart violated the state’s environmental laws and policies by putting hazardous items – including aerosol cans, LED light bulbs, toxic cleaning products, insect sprays, and certain batteries – into landfills that were not designed to handle them. Prosecutors says the waste is from Walmart’s retail stores, pharmacies, car repair centers, and battery and used cell phone collection boxes.
According to the California Justice Department, there were dozens of hazardous items found in 58 separate inspections dating back as far as 2015. However, Walmart officials say audits demonstrate that its record is “far cleaner than the state average,” according to CNN.
“We have met with the state numerous times and walked them through our industry-leading hazardous waste compliance programs in an effort to avoid litigation. Instead, they filed this unjustified lawsuit,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law.”
This is not the first hazardous waste lawsuit that the retail chain has faced in California. In 2010, the California Attorney General’s Office reached a $25 million settlement with Walmart for similar infractions, but inspections since have demonstrated that the company continued to dump waste illegally in breach of settlement terms.