Home Depot Pays $9.9 Million for Hazwaste Violations

LOS ANGELES, California, August 21, 2007 (ENS) - Home Depot agreed Friday to pay $9.9 million settle charges that the giant retailer failed to properly store and transport hazardous waste.

The settlement is one of the largest of its kind in the United States for violations of hazardous waste laws by a big box retail store chain.

The civil case was filed by the California Attorney General, and district attorneys from Los Angeles, Monterey, Riverside, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties and the Los Angeles city attorney.

As part of the settlement, Home Depot agreed to pay a total of $9.9 million in civil penalties and investigation and prosecution costs.

Of that total, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said his office will receive $837,000 in civil penalties and costs. The Los Angeles County Fire Department will receive $250,000 in civil penalties and costs.

The case originated in May 2004, when a fire occurred at Home Depotís Marina Del Rey store. The contents of a 55-gallon drum exploded, causing a fire during regular business hours and leading to the evacuation of store employees and customers and an emergency response from the Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments.

Prompted by the incident in Playa Del Rey, a hauler contracted by Home Depot was stopped by the California Highway Patrol in Ripon, California, while transporting hazardous materials that was lacking proper certification by the state.

These incidents prompted a multi-agency investigation. The investigation concluded that Home Depot had routinely collected hazardous waste that had been created, released, spilled, or accumulated at its stores across California and placed those hazardous wastes in buckets of varying colors for offsite disposal.

Waste haulers who contracted with Home Depot were also found to improperly store and label hazardous waste and material and failed to complete required manifests for all materials being transported by truck.

In addition to paying $9.9 million, Home Depot will contribute required support for designated environmental training programs and other environmental commitments which benefit the state of California and its citizens.

The settlement also requires Home Depot to contract with waste haulers licensed by the California Department of Toxic Substances and use only Department of Transportation-approved containers for off-site disposal.

Officials said the company was cooperative in reaching this settlement, which must be signed by a judge before it is final.

Home Depot said it is improving its handling of hazardous waste and working with state officials to address concerns. Home Depot said it would remain focused on environment through its various sustainability programs.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.