People v. Target Corporation
(Hazardous Waste Handling and Disposal)
Statewide Civil Law Enforcement Action
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office’s Consumer and Environmental Unit, with 19 other California District Attorneys, the California Attorney General, and the city attorneys in San Diego and Los Angeles settled a civil law enforcement action filed against Target Corporation. The suit alleged that more than 240 Target stores throughout California, including six in Ventura County, unlawfully handled and disposed of various hazardous wastes and materials, including pesticides, oven cleaners, pool chemicals, drain openers, paints, aerosols, electronics, pharmaceuticals, batteries and other flammable, toxic and corrosive wastes, over a seven-year period.
The investigation, which began in 2006, found that hazardous waste products were being disposed of in store compactors or down drains. The lawsuit alleged that Target engaged in unlawful disposal practices to sidestep the cost of proper hazardous waste disposal. The amount of previously improperly-disposed hazardous waste at area stores was estimated at one to two tons per store annually.
Under the final judgment, Target Corporation was ordered to pay $22.5 million in civil penalties and costs, and for supplemental environmental projects furthering consumer protection and environmental enforcement in the state. Additionally, Target Corporation was required to hire an outside firm to audit its waste-handling practices. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, which was one of the lead offices in the investigation and litigation, received $1,196,250 in civil penalties and cost recovery.