Wal-Mart fined $82m for dumping hazardous waste

While Wal-Mart workers launch unprecedented strikes, a government fine pushes end to waste disposal procedures

By Natasha Lennard

Published May 29, 2013 2:30PM (EDT)

Wal-Mart Stores in California and Missouri have been found guilty of improperly dumping hazardous waste, violating the Clean Water Act in California and one count of violating a federal law related to pesticide disposal in Missouri. For a number of years, disposed of products, like bleach and fertilizer into the trash or the local sewer system, rather than dealing with them as hazardous waste.

Meanwhile, as Josh Eidelson reported this week, un-unionized employees (with union backing) kicked off "what organizers promise will be the first 'prolonged strikes' in the retail giant’s history... The union-backed labor group OUR Wal-mart says that at least a hundred workers have pledged to join the strikes, and that some workers walking off the job today will stay out at least through June 7, when Wal-mart holds its annual shareholder meeting."

The New York Times reported on the hazardous waste fine:

The guilty plea on all counts brings to an end years of investigations and legal wrangling that pitted the nation’s largest retailer against government authorities over charges that employees were throwing hazardous products in the trash and into sewage systems.

While the legal issues have not made a significant dent in the retail giant’s finances, they have prompted Wal-Mart to revamp its procedures. The company has added training on proper waste disposal for its store employees and created a compliance office consisting of former officials with the Environmental Protection Agency, among other people.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Epa Hazardous Waste Labor Rights Retail Strikes Wal-mart Waste